Other Primates Use Speech and Vocabulary

The Human Evolution Blog

Human language seems so much more complicated and organized than anything experienced by animals. Nevertheless, animals do indeed communicate complex ideas using precise, intentional communication. Some primate species even have discrete audible words with unambiguous meanings. In other words, they have their own spoken languages and vocabulary.

Vervet monkeys are one of the first wild animals to have their vocabulary carefully deciphered by humans. Vervets are Old World Monkeys residing entirely in the rainforests of Africa. These monkeys, like many other species of monkey, give alarm calls when predators approach. These calls act as warnings to others in their troop that a predator is about.


The interesting part is that there are different calls for different predators. By using recording devices followed by careful observation, scientists have been able to document these calls.

To signal that an eagle has been spotted, a vervet will make a low-pitched grunt. When a…

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