Arquivo da tag: Excepcionalismo humano

Thousands of Chimp Vocal Recordings Reveal a Hidden Language We Never Knew About (Science Alert)


24 MAY 2022

A common chimpanzee vocalizing. (Andyworks/Getty Images)

We humans like to think our mastery of language sets us apart from the communication abilities of other animals, but an eye-opening new analysis of chimpanzees might force a rethink on just how unique our powers of speech really are.

In a new study, researchers analyzed almost 5,000 recordings of wild adult chimpanzee calls in Taï National Park in Côte d’Ivoire (aka Ivory Coast).

When they examined the structure of the calls captured on the recordings, they were surprised to find 390 unique vocal sequences – much like different kinds of sentences, assembled from combinations of different call types.

Compared to the virtually endless possibilities of human sentence construction, 390 distinct sequences might not sound overly verbose.

Yet, until now, nobody really knew that non-human primates had so many different things to say to each other – because we’ve never quantified their communication capabilities to such a thorough extent.

“Our findings highlight a vocal communication system in chimpanzees that is much more complex and structured than previously thought,” says animal researcher Tatiana Bortolato from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

In the study, the researchers wanted to measure how chimpanzees combine single-use calls into sequences, order those calls within the sequences, and recombine independent sequences into even longer sequences.

While call combinations of chimpanzees have been studied before, until now the sequences that make up their whole vocal repertoire had never been subjected to a broad quantitative analysis.

To rectify this, the team captured 900 hours of vocal recordings made by 46 wild mature western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus), belonging to three different chimp communities in Taï National Park.

In analyzing the vocalizations, the researchers identified how vocal calls could be uttered singularly, combined in two-unit sequences (bigrams), or three-unit sequences (trigrams). They also mapped networks of how these utterances were combined, as well as examining how different kinds of frequent vocalizations were ordered and recombined (for example, bigrams within trigrams).

In total, 12 different call types were identified (including grunts, pants, hoos, barks, screams, and whimpers, among others), which appeared to mean different things, depending on how they were used, but also upon the context in which the communication took place.

“Single grunts, for example, are predominantly emitted at food, whereas panted grunts are predominantly emitted as a submissive greeting vocalization,” the researchers explain in their paper, led by co-first authors Cédric Girard-Buttoz and Emiliano Zaccarella.

“Single hoos are emitted to threats, but panted hoos are used in inter-party communication.”

In total, the researchers found these different kinds of calls could be combined in various ways to make up 390 different kinds of sequences, which they say may actually be an underestimation, given new vocalization sequences were still being found as the researchers hit their limit of field recordings.

Even so, the data so far suggest chimpanzee communication is much more complex than we realized, which has implications for the sophistication of meanings generated in their utterances (as well as giving new clues into the origins of human language).

“The chimpanzee vocal system, consisting of 12 call types used flexibly as single units, or within bigrams, trigrams or longer sequences, offers the potential to encode hundreds of different meanings,” the researchers write.

“Whilst this possibility is substantially less than the infinite number of different meanings that can be generated by human language, it nonetheless offers a structure that goes beyond that traditionally considered likely in primate systems.”

The next step, the team says, will be to record even larger datasets of chimpanzee calls, to try to assess just how the diversity and ordering of uttered sequences relates to versatile meaning generation, which wasn’t considered in this study.

There’s lots more to be said, in other words – by both chimpanzees and scientists alike.

“This is the first study in a larger project,” explains senior author Catherine Crockford, a director of research at the Institute for Cognitive Science at CNRS, in France.

“By studying the rich complexity of the vocal sequences of wild chimpanzees, a socially complex species like humans, we expect to bring fresh insight into understanding where we come from and how our unique language evolved.”

The findings are reported in Communications Biology.

Game theory and economics show how to steer evolution in a better direction (Science Daily)

Date: November 16, 2021

Source: PLOS

Summary: Human behavior drives the evolution of biological organisms in ways that can profoundly adversely impact human welfare. Understanding people’s incentives when they do so is essential to identify policies and other strategies to improve evolutionary outcomes. In a new study, researchers bring the tools of economics and game theory to evolution management.

Human behavior drives the evolution of biological organisms in ways that can profoundly adversely impact human welfare. Understanding people’s incentives when they do so is essential to identify policies and other strategies to improve evolutionary outcomes. In a new study publishing November 16thin the open access journal, PLOS Biology, researchers led by Troy Day at Queens University and David McAdams at Duke University bring the tools of economics and game theory to evolution management.

From antibiotic-resistant bacteria that endanger our health to control-resistant crop pests that threaten to undermine global food production, we are now facing the harmful consequences of our failure to efficiently manage the evolution of the biological world. As Day explains, “By modelling the joint economic and evolutionary consequences of people’s actions we can determine how best to incentivize behavior that is evolutionarily desirable.”

The centerpiece of the new analysis is a simple mathematical formula that determines when physicians, farmers, and other “evolution managers” will have sufficient incentive to steward the biological resources that are under their control, trading off the short-term costs of stewardship against the long-term benefits of delaying adverse evolution.

For instance, when a patient arrives in an urgent-care facility, screening them to determine if they are colonized by a dangerous superbug is costly, but protects future patients by allowing superbug carriers to be isolated from others. Whether the facility itself gains from screening patients depends on how it weighs these costs and benefits.

The researchers take the mathematical model further by implementing game theory, which analyzes how individuals’ decisions are interconnected and can impact each other — such as physicians in the same facility whose patients can infect each other or corn farmers with neighboring fields. Their game-theoretic analysis identifies conditions under which outcomes can be improved through policies that change incentives or facilitate coordination.

“In the example of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, hospitals could go above and beyond to control the spread of superbugs through methods like community contact tracing,” McAdams says. “This would entail additional costs and, alone, a hospital would likely not have an incentive to do so. But if every hospital took this additional step, they might all collectively benefit from slowing the spread of these bacteria. Game theory gives you a systematic way to think through those possibilities and maximize overall welfare.”

“Evolutionary change in response to human interventions, such as the evolution of resistance in response to drug treatment or evolutionary change in response to harvesting, can have significant economic repercussions,” Day adds. “We determine the conditions under which it is economically beneficial to employ costly strategies that limit evolution and thereby preserve the value of biological resources for longer.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Troy Day, David A. Kennedy, Andrew F. Read, David McAdams. The economics of managing evolution. PLOS Biology, 2021; 19 (11): e3001409 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001409

Donna Haraway: We are living in dangerous but also generative transformational times

Facebook, 24 June 2020

We are living in dangerous but also generative transformational times at the confluence of (at least) 3 emergencies:

1) covid 19 pandemic (not to mention other diseases of both humans and nonhumans rampaging through the living world), but also in the midst of powerful emergent practices of collective care and refusal of death-denial and transcendentalism

2) racial capitalism/neofascism run rampant, but also anti-racist & indigenous justice&care movements surging in the context of world wide economic & environmental crises

3) multispecies extermination/extinction/genocide in the web of climate injustice, extractionism, and catastrophe capitalism, but also widespread revulsion at human exceptionalism and growing affirmation of the earth & earthlings of powerful kinds

Science and technology matter in all of these. “Science for the People” has never been more relevant (especially if the “people” are both human and more than human).
No more business as usual. These times are more dangerous than ever, but maybe, just maybe, there is a chance for something better. So, the old question for the left, what is to be done?

That’s what I want to talk about. What is it like to live in times of possibilities, when just a year ago many of us thought nothing was possible?