Listen to These Great Apes Hum and Sing As They Eat!
While many animals seem to have human characteristics, researcher Eva Maria Luef and her colleagues report that wild gorillas in Africa eat much like humans do. Specifically, they make sounds that are similar to those we make when enjoying a meal. While they are unsure if the noise is meant to direct the meal or express satisfaction with the food, the researchers find that male gorillas tend to hum and sing while they eat.
Mature males among the two groups of lowland gorillas in the study sing more than females or younger males. Luef’s group theorizes that the mature males face fewer predators than females or the immature males. Because of this risk, the vulnerable tend to stay quieter during meals. Flowers and aquatic plant material tend to create the greatest amount of noise from the males, whereas insects brought on the lowest noise levels.
If males are using the song to direct the meal, it may communicate to others in the group that he is eating and they should join him. However, the humming sounds are so low that it is unlikely the males are signaling others outside the immediate group of the presence of food, even though signaling of tasty morsels of food is observable in other primates and birds.
In addition to a better understanding of gorillas, the research can help us learn more about our own eating habits, such as the “mmmm” sounds made when eating that we do not ordinarily make when just talking about food.
Numerous factors have caused a decline in the population of gorillas in our world. Even with wildlife preserves, our actions continue to stress their survival. Understanding our relationship with gorillas can also help efforts to preserve these endangered primates.
Gorillas are interesting animals to watch. They have family relationships, and as teens mature, they face the decision of living life on their own. Watch this gorilla as he grows and faces preparation for living in the wild.