5 Animals You Probably Didn’t Know Are Incredible Communicators

In our pursuit to learn about communication, we look everywhere, and one of the obvious avenues to learn from is animals. Animals are fantastic communicators — most of us have pets like dogs or cats that communicate with us beautifully and seamlessly. Interestingly, a lot of animals communicate very efficiently with each other in the wild, and scientists and researchers who have studied them have always been amazed by how brilliantly they do it.

So we thought we’d pick out 5 animals that have fascinating methods of communication and tell you all about them!Let’s go!

1. Ravens

Ravens are ridiculously intelligent creatures. If you’ve even observed them even a little, you know these birds are smart as hell and adapt to situations really quickly, but did you know they have a whole sign language to communicate with each other? Ravens use their beaks to point at things and wings to gesture and flap around to communicate a variety of messages with each other! If that wasn’t enough, ravens also gesture at and offer up objects like moss, twigs or stones to members of the opposite sex to gain their interest or to strengthen existing bonds.

Studies of ravens have shown that these abilities to gesture put their communication skills on par with some non-human primates, or even as good as a 1 year old human infant.

2. Sperm Whales

With the largest known brains of any animal on the planet and the ability to make some of the loudest sounds, Sperm whales are master communicators. In social situations Sperm whales produce patterns of clicks called “codas” that allow them to communicate with each other in a distinct manner. Studies have revealed that groups name individuals and call out to each other using their specific click pattern.

What is extremely fascinating is that much like human beings different social groups have different “accents”. A study of a group Caribbean Sperm whales found that they have a distinct dialect or clicking pattern, suggesting that worldwide, this could be the pattern!

3. Bison

Politics is complicated and dirty business for humans, but did you know Bison have a democratic process to select their leader? In this act which can only be defined as peak communication skills, bison go through a complex process where one from the herd takes 20 or more steps in the direction that they think the herd should progress in, without grazing, and if the majority of the herd agree and trust the decision, a new leader gets “elected” i.e. the herd follows.

Most of the time the Bison leaders that are female garner the most “votes”. What is interesting is that any individual can take the lead, and sometimes there is a momentary split, but as soon as there is a majority, the group resolves it without conflict — truly a feat (or should we say feet) of communication!

4. Mantis Shrimp

What if we told you that Mantis Shrimp communicate using a secret language that involves sending messages through bouncing light and creating patterns on their bodies that only other mantis shrimp can see and understand? Well, that’s EXACTLY how they communicate. As is, Mantis shrimp have some of the most impressively complex eyesight in the animal kingdom, with 16 colour receptors — humans have 3 — which means they see in ways we can’t even comprehend!

What Mantis shrimp do is use their own bodies to communicate using polarized light that other animals cannot see. Researchers have found that they bounce light off spots on their appendages called maxillipeds, to scatter and arrange light across the surface in a way that conveys information to other mantis shrimp — rather than merely reflecting it. Pretty cool, isn’t it!?

5. Elephants

Everyone loves these gentle giants, but did you know they’re incredibly good at communication? Of course, like all highly social animals elephants use sound, touch, smell, and vision to communicate, but what makes them fascinating is that beyond all this elephants emit low-frequency sounds called “infrasounds”, which are almost a rumbling vibration, completely inaudible to the human ear to communicate with each other.

These vibrations are used by elephants to make “long-distance calls” — one research suggesting that an elephant could pick up these vibrations even a 135 miles away from another elephant, making them absolute kings of communication.

Enjoyed reading this article? Leave a comment and tell us which one was your favourite animal communicator!

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