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Do animals give each other names? © Getty Images

Do animals give each other names?

Published: 21st January, 2022 at 11:00
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Fido, Goldie or Felix might have their own unique names…

Once thought of as a uniquely human trait, research now suggests that other social species also dish out and respond to names. Green-rumped parrot parents give their chicks a ‘signature call’ or ‘name’, which is learned in the nest.


Dolphins learn their own, idiosyncratic ‘signature whistle’ from their mother, as well as recognising and remembering the ‘names’ of other dolphins too. These names are loaded with meaning – one study found that male dolphins respond more strongly to the whistles of consistently helpful allies than to those of more erratic aides.

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Asked by: Anna Crosby, Durham


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Helen Pilcher
Helen PilcherScience writer, presenter and performer.

Helen Pilcher is a tea-drinking, biscuit-nibbling science and comedy writer, with a PhD in cell biology.


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