It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The secret behind the origins of human language may lie in the jungle chatter of a species of monkey, a team of scientists has claimed.
The researchers spent months studying the calls of the Campbell's monkey, or Cercopithecus campbelli, which lives in the forests of the Tai National Park in the Ivory Coast. They discovered that the animals not only use distinctive alarm calls to warn of specific predators nearby but can also combine them with other sounds to convey extra information – in much the same way humans use prefixes and suffixes.
The animals used several instantly recognisable alarm sounds, which the scientists described as "boom", "krak" and "hok". A boom was sounded to warn of a falling branch nearby; a krak was only sounded when a leopard had been seen; and a hok was almost exclusively reserved for when a crowned eagle was spotted above the forest canopy.
But further analysis revealed that while booms were unaltered, the monkeys occasionally added an "oo" to kraks and hoks, an alteration which appeared to change what their message.
"If you add this subtle additional oo unit to turn krak into krak-oo, then that call can be given to a whole range of other contexts. If you take the suffix away then it is almost exclusively a leopard alarm call," Professor Zuberbühler said. "What is interesting is that the same acoustic modifier is being used for these calls, and that is really analogous to using a suffix in human language."