Learn about 12 Ways Animals Communicate with Each Other

Published on March 6, 2024

Credit: Syed Ahmad

From the majestic whales that traverse the ocean depths to the tiny ants orchestrating their complex colonies, animals employ an astonishing array of communication methods to convey information, establish social bonds, and navigate the challenges of their environments.

Whether through intricate dances, melodic songs, chemical signals, or the subtle nuances of body language, the animal kingdom is a vibrant testament to the myriad ways in which creatures express themselves. So join us on a journey into the fascinating world of interspecies communication, where the sounds of nature transcend the boundaries of language as we know it.



Credit: David Clode

In the world of animal communication, the dances performed by various species reveal a rich language of expressions and interactions, just like they do with us. Observing bees in their hives, Karl Von Frisch uncovered a phenomenon known as the "waggle dance": upon discovering a food source, the bees returned to the hive and engaged in a dance, with fellow bees touching their abdomens. This dance communicated precise information about the direction and distance of the newfound sustenance.

The world of tiny dancers extends beyond the buzzing bees. For example, the peacock spider taps its legs to attract nearby female spiders. And clark’s grebes engage in a synchronized water ballet when seeking a mate.


Infrasound and Ultrasound

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The African elephant and the tarsier represent the extremes of the auditory spectrum. African elephants produce low-frequency vibrations below 20 hertz, imperceptible to the human ear. This method of communication transcends great distances, with an infrasound signal from one elephant reaching another over 175 miles away.

On the opposite end, the tarsier, a tiny primate, emits frequencies exceeding 20,000 Hertz—sounds beyond our hearing range. This high-pitched communication serves the tarsier well in the jungle cacophony, allowing them to exchange vital information about potential threats beyond the reach of predators.


Color and Light

Credit: Jonathan Diemel

Cephalopods are masters of the color spectrum. They employ their remarkable ability to change hues for a lot of communicative purposes. Squid and cuttlefish utilize this skill not only to signal their availability for mating but also to assert their territorial dominance or ward off potential threats.

Octopuses, on the other hand, make good use of their color-changing abilities as a camouflage technique and a defensive signal. A sudden shift to white with black accents around their eyes communicates a feeling of vulnerability and a potential readiness to defend.



Credit: David Clode

Some fish, like eels, use electricity as their conversational medium. Eels can generate electric fields with a potential of up to one volt, creating a unique form of communication.

Employing specialized electroreceptors, these fish receive signals transmitted through electric waves. Upon reception, the fish deciphers the signal's frequency and waveform, revealing the language encoded within.



Credit: Nicole Wreyford

The white rhinoceros creates communal defecation sites called middens. This site acts as a type of rhino message board, as the feces contain all sorts of biological and societal information.

A midden can communicate who rules that specific area. The dominant male rhino will often defecate directly in the middle of the midden and kick around his waist, both to spread his smell around the midden and to get it stuck on his feet so that others can recognize the scent wherever he goes.

Whistles, Growls, and Hums

Credit: Amy Reed

Moving into the world of verbal communication, animals showcase an amazing array of vocal prowess. Dholes, the fox-wolf lookalikes, break away from their canid relatives by employing whistles, clucks, and eerie shrieks across their expansive territories of up to 35 square miles.

Silverback gorillas command attention through humming, using it as a bell of sorts to call their group. Similarly, chimps and bonobos prove to be noisy eaters, shedding light on primate social structures through their vocalizations. Yet, prairie dogs steal the show in the complexity of their linguistic skills, using distinct calls to identify approaching predators.



Credit: Svetozar Cenisev

Residing exclusively underground, the African demon mole rats have adopted a headbanging strategy to send messages to their fellow mole rats. Thumping their heads against the tunnel ceilings, these rhythmic vibrations travel through the earth, serving as a unique language in the subterranean darkness.

The pace and intensity of these percussive signals become the code of communication, allowing the demon mole rats to convey a range of meanings to their rodent companions. In the depths of the earth, where conventional sound dissipates quickly, these headbangers have found a method both unconventional and effective to transmit vital information.



Credit: Vincent van Zalinge

We have been using songs to convey all kinds of emotions, birds are known to use their songs for different purposes too. In a unique mating strategy, the female Peruvian warbling antbird disrupts her partner's harmonious song to thwart potential rivals, turning their love song into a discordant domestic dispute that ensures fidelity in the avian courtship.

Another example of a bird using its song for a curious purpose is the Australian male fairy-wren: despite the threat of butcher birds, the male fairy-wrens exhibit an audacious strategy called "vocal hitchhiking". When a nearby butcher bird issues a call, male fairy-wrens boldly respond, showcasing their bravado to attract the attention of female wrens.



Credit: Flavio

The sperm whales engage in a sophisticated language of clicking sounds known as "codas". These acoustic signals serve as a means of conveying information among the whales, creating a complex system akin to regional dialects.

Remarkably, sperm whales in distinct oceanic areas exhibit variations in their clicking patterns, giving rise to unique auditory signatures. Recent findings suggest the possibility of delicate variations not only between different regional groups but potentially within individual clans or even among specific whales.


Sign language

Credit: Tyler Quiring

Ravens communicate with each other through a distinctive form of gesticulation. Much like humans employing hand movements to emphasize points, ravens use their beaks and wings to transmit messages.

In a fascinating display, they show or offer items such as moss, stones, or twigs, often directed towards potential mates. This sign language extends beyond solo performances, with ravens showcasing interactive behaviors like clasping their bills together or collaboratively moving an object.



Credit: Jonathan Mast

European bison communicate in a subtle yet powerful form, where their massive frames belie a soft-spoken language. When these herds decide to move, leadership emerges not from a dominant figure but through a communal decision-making process.

Any member of the herd, regardless of age or gender, can initiate the movement by taking a decisive 20 or more steps in a chosen direction without pausing to graze. The others, trusting this directional choice, simply follow suit. In this unique system, the leading individual becomes the de facto leader.


Whole sentences

Credit: Shashank Hudkar

In southeastern Brazil resides the black-fronted titi, a primate with a sophisticated communication system. Their remarkably dense alarm calls showcase a linguistic prowess uncommon in the animal kingdom.

The black-fronted titi stands out as one of the few species capable of syntax, expertly combining different language units into what can be considered "sentences." Their squeaking calls differentiate between ground- and sky-based threats, with rising pitches signaling the approach of caracaras, and long-legged hawks, while fading calls indicate lurking predatory cats.


Ten Iconic Songs That Celebrate The U.S. States That Inspired Them

Published on March 6, 2024

Credit: Marius Masalar

It’s no surprise that "America the Beautiful" and its landscapes, oceans, and mountains have been recognized by countless works of art. Every state has inspired legendary musicians and songwriters with the many wonders they have to offer.

From Frank Sinatra’s moonlit Vermont to Elvis's wild nights in Vegas, we remember some of these iconic composers with a selection of ten songs that celebrate U.S. states.


"Georgia on My Mind" by Ray Charles

Credit: ibuki Tsubo

We start this list with a timeless classic. Ray Charles sings a tender and moving love song to his home state, pining for a "road that leads back" to his sweet Georgia. You might be surprised to learn that this song wasn’t actually written by Ray Charles, but rather by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, and first recorded by Carmichael in 1930.

Nevertheless, Ray Charles’ version is, without a doubt, the most iconic version, so much so that it was declared Georgia’s official state song in 2006.


"Connecticut" by Judy Garland and Bing Cosby

Credit: Rusty Watson

As Dorothy Gale sings in The Wizard of Oz, "There’s no place like home." Who else but Dorothy herself could make you miss Connecticut with just a song? Judy Garland and Bing Cosby sing their praises of Connecticut in this 1944 tune written by Broadway legends Ira and George Gershwin. Garland’s happy-go-lucky voice lovingly describes this "land of dreams and moonlit streams" before declaring "Connecticut will always be my home, sweet home."


"Moonlight in Vermont" by Frank Sinatra

Credit: Tyler Cordaro

This 1944 song has had many incredible versions (including legendary names like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald), but perhaps Frank Sinatra’s version is the most well-known. The Sultan of Swoon’s dulcet tones line perfectly with the lyrics: an idyllic image frozen in time of a hypnotizing, dimly lit summer night in Vermont’s majestic mountains.


"Floridays" by Jimmy Buffett

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Jimmy Buffet’s 1986 album Floridays , and the track of the same name, paint a lovely picture of the Sunshine State. The song’s narrator keeps "looking for better days", while apparently finding them on those Floridays filled with "blue skies and ultraviolet rays." While the song has an unquestionable nostalgic feeling to it, one can’t help but picture cold beers and the sun setting over the Miami coastline while listening to this song. Fun fact: This was the last studio album to feature Jimmy Buffet’s trademark mustache since he shaved it by 1988’s Hot Water .


"Jersey Girl" by Tom Waits (and Bruce Springsteen)

Credit: Manisha Raghunath

Another tale of a version becoming more popular than the original, "Jersey Girl" was written by legendary composer and musician Tom Waits for his 1980 album Heartattack and Vine, and was first covered by Springsteen in 1981. You can tell how the Boss is truly one of New Jersey’s favorite sons in his live performance of this song at Meadowlands Arena: when he sings about riding "across the river to the Jersey side", the crowd erupts in deafening cheers.


"Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens

Credit: Joel Mott

While this is the first song in this list to reference a city rather than a whole state, Sufjan Stevens's 2005 concept album Illinois is a beautiful exploration of a state the songwriter describes as the "center of gravity of the American midwest." In that sense, "Chicago" is a sad but beautiful depiction of the Windy City. A powerful orchestra backs Steven’s melancholic voice in a song about love, mistakes, and driving back to Chicago while "all things go."


"Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis Presley

Credit: Grant Cai

Another song named after a city, this iconic track is one of the King’s most popular songs. "Viva Las Vegas" (and the 1964 film of the same name) have become synonymous with the Entertainment Capital of the World. Elvis's energetic lyrics about the city that would be his home five years later describe the frenzy and enjoyment this "bright light city" has to offer.


"Kentucky Woman" by Neil Diamond

Credit: lauren barton

We could have easily included Diamond’s powerful patriotic song "America" in this list, but this ode to the Bluegrass State was too good to pass. Diamond sings about a strong-willed gal who "shines with her own kind of light," and that seems to incarnate all the qualities that Kentuckians take pride in. Many are more familiar with Deep Purple’s rock cover, filled with drum fills and electric guitar solos, but Diamond’s acoustic ballad is a classic love letter to a whole state.


"Song of Wyoming" by John Denver

Credit: Karsten Koehn

John Denver songs are known for their acoustic guitar chords, and lyrics filled with praise to nature and disdain for city life. This melancholic ballad to the Cowboy State is no exception. The song that Wyoming sings for Denver’s narrator (a lonesome cowboy tired of riding) is comprised of the sounds of a moonlit prairie, filled with the "cottonwood whispers" and the wild melodies of nightbirds and coyotes.


"South Dakota Morning" by the Bee Gees

Credit: Jonathan Mast

While they might be more well-known for writing the quintessential soundtrack to New York’s disco scene, the Bee Gees’s 1973 "South Dakota Morning" is a slow-paced, melodic ballad about the Mount Rushmore State. The Gibb brothers sing a sad but beautiful tale about a rainy South Dakota morning, and about laying down "on the South Dakota grass."

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