Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 23 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article reviews recent evidence for advanced, language-pertinent, cognitive capacities in birds and mammals and evaluates the potential suitability of song and other animal vocal behaviors as models for the evolution of speech. Dolphins are extremely vocal, exhibit intelligence across a number of behavioral domains, are highly social, and often cooperate to herd schools of fish. Dolphins can also recognize themselves in mirrors, coordinate body postures and swimming patterns with those of other dolphins, and imitate each other's vocalizations, including unique signature whistles which serve for individual recognition among adults and in the mother-infant dyad. The only other non-primate mammals whose “language” capacities appear to have been investigated are domestic dogs. Some have also claimed that domestic dogs equal or exceed great apes in social intelligence. It is reported that both elephants and spotted hyenas are unusually intelligent. Elephants remember and recognize by olfactory and visual means numerous conspecifics and classify them into social groups. They also sometimes cooperate to achieve joint goals and seem to understand others' intentions and emotions. Elephants have highly manipulative trunks, use tools for varied purposes, may recognize themselves in mirrors, and may have a stronger numerical sense than non-human primates. They have elaborate vocal, olfactory, tactile, and gestural communication systems and can imitate some sounds.

Keywords: cognitive capacities, vocal behavior, evolution of speech, swimming patterns, vocalizations, gestural communication

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.