Those gibbons sure can wail

Birds are not the only animals that communicate by singing—gibbons, apes more closely resembling monkeys in size, sing to strengthen social relationships, announce their territory and find a mate. Crested gibbons in the genus Nomascus live in the Asian rain forests of China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and sing for a specific purpose. “The songs are specifically adapted to travel over long distances through the dense vegetation of the...

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Antbird songs converge while other traits don’t

Convergent evolution of large functional traits is not uncommon in nature; consider that wings have evolved in several lineages of animals to broaden niches that animals can fill.  But more specific convergence, especially in sexual and territorial signals, is rare at best and stirs controversy in the scientific world. On the surface, it would seem that if two species converge in their signals, it would lead to crossbreeding and...

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Skylarks don’t talk to strangers…or wanderers

Bird songs are among the most complex and fascinating forms of animal communication. Tiny differences in bird songs can often result in “dialects”, where populations of the same species have slightly different variations on the same songs. In a study out today in Naturwissenschaften, ornithologists have taken it a step further. Some skylarks can not only differentiate among songs of neighboring  birds, but also match these...

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