Zoo gorillas have developed a new sneeze-like call to get the attention of their human keepers.

A new study has found that gorillas in the zoo have evolved their own calling to get food and attention from their keepers.

University of Georgia scientists called it “cough” – because it sounds somewhere between a sneeze and a cough.

This is the first time that “complex vocal learning” has been recognized in western gorillas, as they learn to make new sounds when encountering new situations.

Outside of humans, it is found only in songbirds, parrots, hummingbirds, whales, dolphins, porpoises, finches — and more recently in elephants.

The lead author, Professor Roberta Salmi, said evidence of the ability to produce new calls through vocal imitation is rare in the animal kingdom.

“Calls that attract a captive gorilla’s attention are like the sound between a sneeze and a cough that we called ‘snough’ or ‘Attention AG’.”

A new study has found that gorillas in the zoo have evolved their own calling to get food and attention from their keepers. Pictured: Sugar gorillas at Zoo Atlanta, who took part in the experiment

The results, published today in PLoS ONE, were the result of a series of experiments in Zoo Atlanta.

Eight gorillas were transferred to a separate enclosure, and a familiar guard, a bucket of grapes, or a guard with a bucket of grapes was placed one meter from the pen – in sight but out of reach.

Their reactions were then videotaped over the next 120-second period, and it was found that they vocalized most often when the food and the guard were present together.

They are also often pronounced using the sounds of atypical types that It was like sneezing and coughing.

These noises were mostly single noises, but in a few cases they were part of a longer sequence of two to four spaced about one second apart.

Each one lasted about a fifth of a second, and was often accompanied by an exaggerated opening of the mouth, and repeated gentle but quick slapping or covering of the head or face.

An analysis confirmed that they differ vocally from common gorilla calls such as grunts, which they use as communication calls, and buzzers, which require food in the wild.

frequencies of attention-grabbing calls from three gorillas;  Kudzu (A), Maisie (B), Sukari (C).  They differ phonetically from common calls such as grunts and demands for food in the wild

frequencies of attention-grabbing calls from three gorillas; Kudzu (A), Maisie (B), Sukari (C). They differ phonetically from common calls such as grunts and demands for food in the wild

Male gorillas beat their breasts to show the female how big and scary they are

Analysis of male wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda reveals the drumming noise of males illustrating their size.

German researchers also found that larger gorillas make a deeper noise when slapped on their chest than their smaller peers, and each individual’s striking pattern is unique.

It is believed that when silverbacks bump into their muscular torso, they broadcast their dominance and size to rival males while at the same time trying to impress females who might be potential mates.

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a A survey of records from other zoos revealed that this phenomenon is not unique to Zoo Atlanta.

Video footage of 15 individuals showed that the call was produced by at least five females and a male who reside in four different facilities.

Professor Salmi said: “Respondents attributed its use to up to 33 gorillas located in 11 different zoos across the United States and Canada.

These results demonstrate that gorillas can modify their calls to produce a new sound and moreover confirm that they can intentionally issue their calls and gestures to modulate the attention state of caregivers.

Western gorillas at the Atlanta Zoo use a variety of cues to get human attention, including vocalizations and auditory and non-audible gestures.

These include soft, low-frequency sounds, hand flapping or clapping, and body shaking or waving as the most common signals.

Professor Salmi said “snough” had never before been described in wild gorilla ammunition.

“The results of our study indicate that it is used specifically to attract the attention of humans, suggesting that gorillas, like other apes, are able to produce new sounds when faced with new contexts,” she added.

Eight gorillas were taken to a separate enclosure, and a familiar guard, a bucket of grapes, or a guard with a bucket of grapes was placed one meter from the pen - in sight but out of reach.  Pictured: a graph showing the average number of attention-grabbing and attention-grabbing sounds and gestures in the three conditions

Eight gorillas were taken to a separate enclosure, and a familiar guard, a bucket of grapes, or a guard with a bucket of grapes was placed one meter from the pen – in sight but out of reach. Pictured: a graph showing the average number of attention-grabbing and attention-grabbing sounds and gestures in the three conditions

The researchers say that future work should attempt to determine the extent and patterns of “oral” transmission across captive populations.

It can also assess whether a call type is present, or a modified version, being used in a new context by comparing it to the full vocal inventory of the animal gorilla.

The researchers were unable to infer how the AG sound appeared in gorillas, either randomly or acquired by observing humans.

However, they speculated that the cough-like sound had attracted the attention of sentinels as they monitored their health, and primates might have noticed this trend.

Professor Salmi said: ‘These findings represent one of the few evidence for spontaneous new vocal production in uncultured individuals of this species, supporting the inclusion of great apes as moderate vocal learners and possibly demonstrating an evolutionary function for a flexible vocal repertoire.’

Monkeys can recognize a friendly face, according to a new study, but they can’t help but stare at strangers

A new study shows that primates living in zoos are able to recognize friendly faces, especially those of their keepers, but can’t help themselves from staring at strangers.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, studied the different ways monkeys interact with keepers and visitors.

They tested dozens of great zoo monkeys living in social groups at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo that could use a touch screen and have them look at pictures of faces.

Primates experienced markedly different interactions with familiar humans, such as the zoo keepers who take care of them, compared to unfamiliar people, such as the large number of zoo visitors they are regularly exposed to.

They discovered that those who were unfamiliar with them received more focus from the guards, indicating that the apes automatically classify humans based on familiarity.

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A new study shows that primates living in zoos are able to recognize friendly faces, especially those of their keepers, but they can't help themselves from staring at strangers.  stock image

A new study shows that primates living in zoos are able to recognize friendly faces, especially those of their keepers, but they can’t help themselves from staring at strangers. stock image

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