A group of researchers has discovered that crested gibbon apes have regional accents. The scientists studied the singing of over 400 crested gibbons in 24 different locations in Asia.
The gibbons studied live in the rainforests of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China. “Each gibbon has its own variable song but, much like people, there is a regional similarity between gibbons within the same location,” said lead researcher Van Ngoc Thinh. (Source: UPI.com) (Their study was published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.)
Gibbon songs are made to travel over long distances in thickly vegetated areas by having a single frequency. It was found the songs that were most similar came from species that genetically were very closely related. Identifying gibbons by their songs is easier than by genetics because obtaining physical samples is difficult, whereas the songs are constantly being emitted and can be heard from some distance. Also, the songs can help identify where the gibbons are from, sort of like regional accents for humans.
Gibbons sing songs to attract mates and to establish territory. As reported in the study, “The results show that the structure of crested gibbon songs is not only a reliable tool to verify phylogenetic relatedness, but also to unravel geographic origins.”
Crested gibbons are some of the most endangered animals in the world. Like many endangered species they face habitat loss, and hunting. Some are also captured for the illegal pet trade. They are the only monogamous ape.
Image Credit: bergeycm