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Thread: Are There Animals that Communicate with Humans?

  1. #1 Are There Animals that Communicate with Humans? 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    What animal(s) are able to communicate with us, if any? What got me thinking this was yesterday while shovelling snow off my driveway I heard the neighbour's dog whining from behind their gate. It should be known that when my neighbour is at work, my wife usually walks her dog. I got to thinking, was it the dog communicating to me that it wanted to be walked or was the dog was just associating my presence with being walked? I choose the latter, i think the dog was only displaying some anxiousness mixed with anticipation, not really trying to connect with me. Perhaps it is us who want to believe an animal is trying to communicate, idk.

    Anyways someone asked this question here.

    Also this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human–..._communication


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    There is, apparently, an African bird that likes honey (IIRC) and deliberately leads humans to a bees' nest so that, after the human has taken the honey he wants the bird gets the left overs. From what I've read the birds also lie to the human about how far they have to walk to get to the honey (misleading them to think that it's close by when in fact it's a fair trek to reach).
    Unfortunately not only can I not remember what the bird is called I can't recall just where I read about it.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    There is, apparently, an African bird that likes honey (IIRC) and deliberately leads humans to a bees' nest so that, after the human has taken the honey he wants the bird gets the left overs. From what I've read the birds also lie to the human about how far they have to walk to get to the honey (misleading them to think that it's close by when in fact it's a fair trek to reach).
    Unfortunately not only can I not remember what the bird is called I can't recall just where I read about it.


    The title suggests the bird is communicating with us. Do vultures follow big game predators?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    What animal(s) are able to communicate with us, if any? What got me thinking this was yesterday while shovelling snow off my driveway I heard the neighbour's dog whining from behind their gate. It should be known that when my neighbour is at work, my wife usually walks her dog. I got to thinking, was it the dog communicating to me that it wanted to be walked or was the dog was just associating my presence with being walked? I choose the latter, i think the dog was only displaying some anxiousness mixed with anticipation, not really trying to connect with me. Perhaps it is us who want to believe an animal is trying to communicate, idk.

    Anyways someone asked this question here.

    Also this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human–..._communication
    What is the fundamental difference between animal>human versus human>human communication other than degrees of skill and availability of tools?

    Even human>human empathy works along the same lines as normal communication .

    We are all ships in the night....there is no direct link between two minds ...it is all mediated at a distance even if it can be extremely beneficial to imagine it otherwise (and sometimes it may be that the illusion is extremely lifelike- perhaps more lifelike than one's day to day experiences)
    .

    I would be happy to be shown to be wrong but life need not be perfect or run along rails designed by poets** or ecstatics.

    **doing them a disservice as no doubt they understand this as well as anyone else and I am not really qualified to judge as my understanding of poetry is extremely limited.
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  6. #5  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Yes, there are a number of animals that "communicate" though only a few use human created language. Dolphins. Gorillas, parrots, dogs, etc all communicate with humans.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post

    The title suggests the bird is communicating with us. Do vultures follow big game predators?
    That's me in the corner with a dunce hat on for the rest of the week: can't remember the name of a bird that guides people to honey, what could it be called?
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    That's me in the corner with a dunce hat on for the rest of the week: can't remember the name of a bird that guides people to honey, what could it be called?
    I have heard they prefer to keep a low profile.
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    I don't know if everbody would call it communication but... A bird, blue heron, that eats fish drawn by the bread I feed the ducks on my dog walk has for the passed 3 years claimed the territory near me and my dog against 5 other herons, and a couple of great snowy egrets (another type of heron). Last week, in fact, it caught a fish, hopped to me (2 feet), gave it to me, and hopped away. I could not believe it! I looked around for someone with a phone or camera, but no. Nobody's going to believe it! The next day the bird gave me another bigger fish! There was a french guy on a bench who took a picture. Told him the story. Gave him my email but still no picture. It should be a great picture. Me, my dog, the bird, and the fish.

    Then there are the chickens. Long story short; 7 year old girl moves in building, week later father killed by truck, I fall into surrogate role, next thing I know I got a yard full of chickens. So 4 month old chickens. A barely cat 1 tornado pulls down fence. In repairing fence I strain back. On the ground flat on my back in pain. The chicken comes over strokes my side with foot, climbs up and snuggles in my arms cooing to comfort me.

    So what do you call that?

    P.S. I put the fish back in the water.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    What animal(s) are able to communicate with us, if any?
    I guess my first question is, how do YOU define communication?

    Ask most pet owners and they will tell you they can understand their pet. The way the tail wags with the intonation of the whine tells me my dog is hungry, or the way my cat seems to instinctively know when to come over and lay on my lap when I'm feeling down, are these things you would consider communication?

    Others have mentioned that we have taught animals methods of communicating with us in languages we understand, particularly I recall there being a gorilla they taught to use sign language. However I also recall reading an article that stated they couldn't be sure if the gorilla was actually communicating and creating unique thoughts and responses, or simply responding with learned gestures.

    https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-hom...ats-using-leaf

    This dog, assuming the article is factual, has learned and taught himself that he can buy treats with leaves. Is this communication?

    Before anyone can answer your question sufficiently you have to define what it is you're talking about.
    Always minimize the variables.

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  11. #10  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haasum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    What animal(s) are able to communicate with us, if any?
    I guess my first question is, how do YOU define communication?
    Not about spreading germs, sharing ideas or transmitting an emotion such as fear, joy, etc.

    I wouldn't include such things as body markings, scent, or anything evolution has designed that we interpret as dangerous (i.e. Rattler's rattle) or futile (i.e.. body armour), even go as far as flight zones. None of that stuff.

    I'm more concerned with recognizing an intentional conscious effort on the animal's part when it comes to conveying a message to us or creating an understanding between the animal and the human. Verbally or non verbally(i.e. body language). It was just a fun topic, anecdotal in origin and not for any scientific benefit on my end. Just looking for the animals, not a full blown debate on the definition of communication as it pertains to the topic. I think people can make their own judgements there and if they wish to discuss individual cases then by all means. Hope that helps.
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; December 21st, 2018 at 09:57 AM.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Haasum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    What animal(s) are able to communicate with us, if any?
    I guess my first question is, how do YOU define communication?
    Not about spreading germs, sharing ideas or transmitting an emotion such as fear, joy, etc.

    I wouldn't include such things as body markings, scent, or anything evolution has designed that we interpret as dangerous (i.e. Rattler's rattle) or futile (i.e.. body armour), even go as far as flight zones. None of that stuff.

    I'm more concerned with recognizing an intentional conscious effort on the animal's part when it comes to conveying a message to us or creating an understanding between the animal and the human. Verbally or non verbally(i.e. body language). It was just a fun topic, anecdotal in origin and not for any scientific benefit on my end. Just looking for the animals, not a full blown debate on the definition of communication as it pertains to the topic. I think people can make their own judgements there and if they wish to discuss individual cases then by all means. Hope that helps.
    I have a young puppy that I am trying to knock sense into.

    I have begun to notice that ,when it gets up on its back legs and starts to scratch my knees that it is probably saying that it wants to go outside.

    It is a work in progress to understand what it is trying to get across at any one time,

    Since I hold the keys to its present opportunities in life , I am quite sure it is trying to get its message across.

    One signal I seem to have decoded is the tone in its bark when it wants to play..(and when it is getting frustrated)
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    One signal I seem to have decoded is the tone in its bark when it wants to play..(and when it is getting frustrated)
    Seems to be one of the more common themes...... animals attempt communication when they want something. Scratching, barking , whining....all different methods that mean the same thing?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    One signal I seem to have decoded is the tone in its bark when it wants to play..(and when it is getting frustrated)
    Seems to be one of the more common themes...... animals attempt communication when they want something. Scratching, barking , whining....all different methods that mean the same thing?
    Sometimes the sounds are for internal consumption .Our dog starts to growl before he barks. I don't think the growling is at us ;just a sign he is losing patience -a kind of displacement activity.

    Their semantic vocabulary is probably fairly limited but I imagine it extends further than one or two items.

    This woman, Dr Temple Grandin has a lot to say on the subject(especially cows)

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00791tq etc etc
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Sometimes the sounds are for internal consumption .Our dog starts to growl before he barks. I don't think the growling is at us ;just a sign he is losing patience -a kind of displacement activity.

    Their semantic vocabulary is probably fairly limited but I imagine it extends further than one or two items.

    This woman, Dr Temple Grandin has a lot to say on the subject(especially cows)

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00791tq etc etc
    Your video link unavailable here for some reason. I'm sure it's moo-ving.

    Totally unscientific but I tried this experiment the other day.... Our bird feeders were jammed primarily with finches. I was outside the back of house about 20 feet away and decided to slam back door shut loudly. Many of the birds scattered but not all. Once they all returned, instead of slamming a door I decided to yell 'HEY!'. To a bird they all took off, some flying far while some into a tree nearby. I've not repeated the experiment yet, don't want neighbor to think I've cracked. �� My thought at the time was that perhaps verbalized warning sounds are universally understood in the animal kingdom. However I don't think it's understanding the language of other species but reacting because observation has taught them it's more beneficial to heed the sound, flee in this case. Then again observation could be what understanding another critter's communication is all about. I understand there's a lot more to this topic than my chintzy little test can offer, I was just trying to match thought with observation and not attempting to usurp the efforts of field biologists everywhere.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  16. #15  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    imo the human voice is more distinct in declaring that there’s a human (and as such potential danger to avian life and limb) about, rather than a slamming door, which could originate from a non-human source
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  17. #16  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    imo the human voice is more distinct in declaring that there’s a human (and as such potential danger to avian life and limb) about, rather than a slamming door, which could originate from a non-human source
    Between the loud noise and my yell the birds returned. I did nothing to invite them back. If the sound of my voice is enough to scatter.them then there is nothing I can utter that will.call.them back. If I can't communicate.the come back part.then am I really communicating anything to the birds.by yelling? Makes me.doubt whether a bird can consciously communicate.with us.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  18. #17  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Your seeming to generalize all birds too much on that. A sparrow is very different from a crow or an African gray
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

    The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few - Spock of Vulcan & Sentinel Prime of Cybertron ---proof that "the needs" are in the eye of the beholder.
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  19. #18  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Your seeming to generalize all birds too much on that. A sparrow is very different from a crow or an African gray
    You're right. For the birds at our feeders, which are basically small songbirds, I feel it unlikely that they would consciously try to communicate with us.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  20. #19  
    Forum Freshman Robbedoes's Avatar
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    This is a chimpanzee communicating with zoo visitors.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWFzo8EJK04
    And here is Koko. She's amazing.
    Last edited by Robbedoes; January 28th, 2019 at 09:47 AM. Reason: adding something
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