Here is a strange fact: We may have more in common with mongooses than most people know. According to some research these social animals seem to have “names” and they may keep eachother informed about their activities with vocalizations.
In old Indian traditions throughout parts of Eurasia, there is a belief that the mongoose is unique among other creatures of the wild. The reason for the animal’s apparent novelty, it seems, has to do with the notion that a mongoose, if trained properly, might be capable of learning to speak.
Science has found interesting evidence that may underlie this human view of the mongoose.
Animals may have more to say for themselves than most people think, a new study suggests. Scientists found that the monosyllabic call of the banded mongoose is structured in a similar way to vowels and consonants in human speech. They believe the same is true for sounds made by other animals, including frogs and bats.
The researchers analysed calls made by wild mongooses at a research station in Uganda. Each call, which can be viewed as a single “syllable”, lasts just 50 to 150 milliseconds, yet consists of different structural sounds, the study found. Watching the behaviour of the mongooses revealed hidden meaning in the calls.
“The initial sound of the call provides information on the identity of the animal calling,” said scientist Dr David Jansen, from the University of Zurich in Switzerland. The second, more tonal and vowel-like, part of the call indicated the caller’s activity, he added. …
They believe the phenomenon has been overlooked until now. Frogs and bats also structure single syllables, they point out.
Young mongooses bond with adult animals that escort them on foraging missions, recognising the individual by its call. …
So many things that seem uniquely human have parallels we are still discovering elsewhere in the animal kingdom.