Posted 10th Mar 2016 by Peter Byrne
It has been revealed that birds use language in much the same way as humans
Through a variety of 'chirrups' they're able to form complex sentences and stand as the first creature that has been known to do so.
While it has long been known that animals can use songs and calls to signal danger or while on the lookout for a mate, it was not believed that birds were intelligent enough to string meanings together to create new meanings.
The study was carried out on a relation of the Great Tit that we often find in our garden, and has shown that they have a variety of calls, from inviting birds to come and join them to alerting their nearby birds that there is a predator, such as a sparrowhawk, nearby.
However it has now been found that they can put the two phrases together and create a call meaning to come and join them as they help scan the vicinity for danger, in short a call to arms for the flock.
To test their theory, researchers then artificially reversed the call to see how birds would react - they were unable to understand what the call meant.
Language is one of the most important defining traits for humanity, and this research is suggesting the evolution of syntax amongst other species, something which was long thought to be unique to humanity.
Image courtesy of Getty / Oxford Scientific / Duncan Shaw