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Gibbon Dialects

March 28, 2011

Gibbons in Southeast Asia have identifiable regional dialects.



Gibbon dialects…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many people speak with a regional accent.  So do small, southeast Asian apes called crested gibbons.  This according to Kurt Hammerschmidt of the German Primate Center and his colleagues.  His team found that a gibbon’s bird-like song can be used not only to identify the species, but where it hails from.   For instance, this black-crested gibbon is the northernmost species.

[SFX: N. Nasutus]

Other northern species sound a lot like it, but different from southerners, like this white-cheeked gibbon.

[SFX: N. Leucogenys]

Hammerschmidt says there were also regional variations within each species. 


So what you can really see is a dialect.  So you can see, okay, not only is it a yellow cheeked crested gibbon, but it’s a yellow cheeked crested gibbon coming from a certain place. 

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.