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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.

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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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Authors

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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