Segments in this Video

Canine Communication (04:45)


Dogs have extensive cognitive capacity. They respond to “baby talk” more than neutral tones; language comprehension is partially based on intonation. At Messerli Research Institute, scientists learn that they determine their masters’ emotions by reading facial expressions.

Voice Mechanics (06:18)

In the 1950’s, humans raised a chimpanzee named Vicky, but she never mastered speech. Scientists believed that larynx positioning rendered animals incapable of vocalization. Recent research reveals that connections from the cortex to neurons controlling the vocal tract are weak or absent in those that cannot vocalize.

Nonverbal Communication (02:37)

In the 1960's, two psychologists adopted chimpanzee Washoe, immersing her in society and raising her as a deaf-mute child. She expressed over 150 words and taught her offspring signs. Dr. Tecumseh Fitch questions their methodology.

Learning Animal Communication (05:03)

Scientists Catherine Hobaiter and Dick Byrne study chimpanzee language, believing it is the best way to communicate. Hobaiter has catalogued 70 gestures signed by an Ugandan family, finding some universally used by large primates.

Verbal Capacities (06:15)

Some animals have the capacity for vocal learning and are capable of imitating and using human speech. Research shows that intelligence does not dictate the trait. The genetic evolution of neurons controlling vocalization is the commonality among speaking beings.

Aviation Cognition (05:50)

An international project to sequence genomes of all living species is underway. Scientist Irene Pepperberg hopes to learn whether animals have adaptations that will evolve into a vocal learning capacity. Griffin, a parrot, displays abilities to understand abstract and relational concepts, and innovate words.

SpeakDolphin Research (09:02)

Jack Kassewitz aspires to communicate with dolphins in their language. They create dense flows of information with clicks and whistles for echolocation and socialization. Kassewitz uses a cymascope to translate sound into a visual form.

Learning Tools (09:11)

Prof. Diana Reiss wants to decode dolphin language to warn wild pods of human dangers; she is developing DolphinPad to accelerate the process. In the 1980's, Reiss created an underwater keyboard that allowed individual dolphins to choose whistles associated with fun activities.

Credits: Animal Conversations - When Animals Talk to Humans (00:47)

Credits: Animal Conversations - When Animals Talk to Humans

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Animal Conversations - When Animals Talk to Humans

Part of the Series : Animal Conversations
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Could our age-old dream of being able to communicate with animals finally be within our grasp?  Scientists are rapidly making our dreams a reality. They are endeavoring “to communicate with animals–using spoken language.” As we follow their research, we learn how dogs read their masters’ moods on their faces. How a large monkey addresses a human using sign language, and how dolphins share mental images with each other.  We also hear a crafty parrot being deliberately misleading during a human animal communication experiment. The future brings the promise of intelligent software capable of simultaneous translation between humans and animals. The aim is to better understand the animal kingdom and change our perspective on it, thus helping to create a world in which there is greater mutual respect.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL194700

ISBN: 978-1-64623-647-3

Copyright date: ©2018

Closed Captioned

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