Types of animal communication | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy

Types of animal communication | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy

– So let’s talk a little bit about types of animal communication
or different ways that animals can
communicate with each other. In one way, at least the
most obvious way for me, is that they can communicate
to each other with sound. So, dogs can bark, birds can sing. This bird in particular looks like it’s making a whole lot of noise. And although animals don’t
have language, per se, the sounds that they create can
convey a lot of information. For example, different animals
have different mating calls that are used to attract a mate. And animals can also make warning sounds or sounds to warn other
members of the same species that a predator or some kind of danger has entered into their area. And although when we think
about auditory information, we usually think about
it as being produced by the mouth of an animal,
it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t always the case. Crickets and grasshoppers
rub their legs together to make noise that attracts a mate. And we have this rattlesnake here, and the warning signal that he gives isn’t one that he makes with his mouth or with any kind of vocal cords. It’s a shake of his tail. There are a lot of
benefits for using sound as a means of communication. First of all, it’s really fast. You can get a lot of
information out really quickly. It also allows you to get information to lots of different
members at the same time. On the other hand, auditory
information isn’t very private. Some species of monkeys
will emit a warning sound to let the other monkeys
in their group know if a predator has entered into their area. And while this alerts all of the monkeys to the appearance of their predator, it also lets the predator know
that they’re no longer hidden and also exposes the monkey
that originally made the sound. Animals can also communicate
through chemical signals or olfactory signals, so using smell as a means to communicate or gain information from the environment. For example, even if food is out of sight, a rat can often track
it down by smell alone. Animals can also release scents
as a means of communication, and these scents are usually
referred to as pheromones, which are often used
to help attract a mate. But they can also be used to help guide other members of a species to food. Think of the line that an ant
follows in order to find food. It’s following the scent trail that has been released by other ants. And before when we were
talking about sound, we mentioned how animals
could emit a warning call to let other animals know if a
predator was in their midsts. And one of the ways that they could tell if a predator is there is to use smell. So they can detect the
scents of other animals in their environment. And while sound communication
tends to travel really fast, chemical signaling tends
to be a lot slower. It might not be picked up on right away. But at the same time, it can
also be a lot longer-lasting. So scents can stick
around in the environment. However, because they linger, it means that chemical signaling
can be pretty noisy. And I’m gonna put that in quotes ’cause that’s kind of a weird word to use when we’re talking about olfactory signals and not sound signals. What I mean when I say that it’s noisy is that there could be a lot of chemical signals in a given area. So just like it can be hard to hear what a single person is saying in a room full of shouting people, it’s possible that chemical signals can also get pretty jumbled when there are a lot of them
in a single environment. Animals can also use
somatosensory communication. So they can communicate
through touch and movements and other things related
to somatosensation. And I think a great example
of this is mating dances. And if you want to see a
really great example of this, I would go to YouTube and look up the Superb Bird of Paradise,
who does this amazing, kind of bouncy dance in
order to attract a mate. But movement can also be used
to convey other information. For example, bees do a complicated dance in order to communicate information about food location to
the rest of the hive. Touch can also be used to
facilitate group and pair bonding. For example, birds often
cuddle or preen their mates, which is something that we
also see in apes and monkeys. They tend to groom each other, or they tend to pick insects
out of each other’s fur. Animals can also use body
language to convey information. So facial expression can
be used to convey emotion. Dogs might snarl or show their teeth when they’re threatened. They tend to perk up their
ears if they’re alarmed or put them down and
back when they’re scared. And there are a number
of other different types of somatosensory communication
that I didn’t even know about before I went to make this video. One of which is seismic communication. An example of this would be the movement of a bug in a spider’s web. And that signals the spider to investigate and then find the food. There’s also electrocommunication, so there are certain fish who can generate electrical signals that
can aid in communication. At the same time, these signals can also be detected by predators who use them as a way to find food. Animals can also use
visual cues to communicate. And I feel like there’s a lot of overlap between this type of communication and the type of communication that we just talked about before:
somatosensory communication. So before I mentioned that some animals do complicated dances
in order to find a mate. And of course there’s a
visual aspect to those dances. And here’s a pretty well-known example. Here’s a peacock who has
its feathers extended, and it’s doing this in
order to attract a peahen. And I feel like that’s the
most well-known example of a visual display for mating. But there are many others as well. So down here we have a bird
who has puffed up its chest, and then it shakes its
head back and forth quickly as a way to attract a lady bird. But visual cues can do a lot more than simply help an animal
attract another animal. So I have another example over
here, another bird example. Apparently I’m really into birds today. And this is a herring
gull, and herring gulls have a really interesting means of visual communication through color. You’ll notice that this herring gull has a bright yellow beak,
but it also has this red dot at the end of the beak. And this red dot is actually really useful for the herring gull when it
comes to feeding its young. So it kind of acts as a
large “poke here” button, and when the herring gull has just fed and it returns to its young, the baby herring gulls will
actually peck at this red point, and that stimulates the
parent herring gulls to regurgitate their food
for the young to eat. And of course there are other examples of color communication. There are many frogs that
display warning colors or bright colors that
signal to other animals that these frogs are poisonous or toxic. Related to this is the idea of mimicry. For example, monarch
butterflies are toxic to birds and they’re colored in
a very specific way. But there’s another type of butterfly called the viceroy butterfly, and this one isn’t poisonous to birds
the way that the monarch is. But the patterns and
the colors on its wing are very similar to that of the monarch. And so this coloring actually provides the viceroy butterfly a lot of protection, because it communicates to other
animals that they’re toxic, even though they’re not. But as much as I find it
interesting how animals can use visual cues to
communicate with other animals, I also find it interesting
how they can use visual cues to deliberately not communicate. For example, through camouflage. Let’s take a look at this picture here. And I know it looks like just
a pile of sticks and leaves, but there is actually
a frog in this picture, and it is very well camouflaged. And I’m about to point out where it is, but before I do that, if you’re interested in making yourself really frustrated, enlarge this picture and pause this video, and take a moment to
see if you can find it. So hopefully you’ve taken a
second to look for the frog. And congratulations if
you were able to find it, but do not worry if you didn’t, because I didn’t either. But you can actually see
that it is right here. And so now let’s take a look at this frog now that we’ve greyed out the background. Just by looking at this frog, you can tell how well it blends into its background. Its coloring and shading
are nearly identical to the leaves and sticks surrounding it. And you can see how this
coloring and the shading would help this frog to avoid predators. And I’ve mentioned a number of types of animal communication here, but I want you to know
that there are a lot more, and I just don’t have time to talk about all of them in this video. There’s bioluminescent communication, so think about how fireflies
glow to attract mates. And there’s also gaze
following or other social cues like looking where
someone else is looking. And this is important
because it provides animals with a silent way to signal the location of food or a predator. So like I said, there
are lots more examples of animal communication, and if there’s one that I’ve left out that you find to be
particularly interesting, maybe write about in the comments so that other students can
see it and benefit from it.

12 thoughts on “Types of animal communication | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy

  1. Bats, dolphins and snakes would be interesting to study or sharks with their electro magnetic detection

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