Goats have the ability to develop accents, scientists have revealed.
Truth Dive reports that humans have an extreme form of vocal plasticity, which allows us to produce a wide range of sounds and accents, but in most other mammals (except, apparently, bats and whales) vocalisations were thought to be genetically determined, with no ability to learn.
However, research from Queen Mary University in London, shows the existence of vocal plasticity (accents) in goats.
Scientists studied four groups of goats, who were all full or half siblings. They were recorded during two socially and ecologically distinct periods: at one week old, when they typically stay hidden from predators with their siblings; and at five weeks old, when they form social groups with animals of the same age, known as ‘creches’.
The team found that despite their limited vocal repertoire, the calls of goat half-siblings became more similar when they were raised in the same social group together.
One researcher said: “We found that genetically related kids produced similar calls, which is not that surprising. But the calls of kids raised in the same social groups were also similar to each other, and became more similar as the kids grew older. This suggests that goat kids modify their calls according their social surroundings, developing similar ‘accents’”
“The research also highlights the important cognitive abilities that some of our domestic animals possess, and which have remained undetected until now." Another revealed. "Improved knowledge of their behaviour and cognition provides essential information for improving animal welfare.”