In the Class­room

Be­ing able to get mes­sages across to one an­other is vi­tal to the sur­vival and con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of all species on Earth

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EVER won­dered why a cat rubs against your legs? Why does it seem as if ants fol­low an in­vis­i­ble line to a food source? What are birds say­ing to one an­other so early in the morn­ing?

Un­like hu­mans, an­i­mals don’t use words to speak to one an­other. Par­rots that “talk” are only mim­ick­ing us – they don’t un­der­stand what the words mean.

But an­i­mals do com­mu­ni­cate – about food, friend­ship, pro­cre­ation and to warn one an­other about dan­ger.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the process by which in­for­ma­tion is sent and re­ceived. An­i­mals use a va­ri­ety of sig­nals to pass on in­for­ma­tion.

The forms th­ese sig­nals take also vary widely.

Fe­male moths dis­charge pheromones (a chem­i­cal sub­stance) to let male moths know it’s time to mate. Male moths use cells on their an­ten­nae to pick up the scent from up to 90m away. This male chameleon has made it­self brightly coloured to at­tract a mate. Ri­vals also flash bright colours at one an­other un­til the weaker male gives up. This chim­panzee isn’t smil­ing to show it is friendly. This is a fear gri­mace to show sub­mis­sion to the male leader of the troop.

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