Scientists are clashing over how chimps communicate in a series of disagreeing papers.
Scientists in the UK and the U.S. are fighting with each other over a controversial subject: do chimpanzees have accents?
A study in the UK initially argued that chimps can adjust their grunts to communicate with new chimps, which they supposedly discovered after a group of chimps was sent from a Dutch safari park to the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, according to a BBC report.
They reported that they were making different noises for the same thing when they encountered a different group of chimps that had been in Edinburgh for a while, but a new study published in the journal Current Biology claims that’s bunk. The study, led by Dr. James Higham of New York University, said there were problems with the study’s methodology and how it interpreted the facts — leading Dr. Simon Townsend of Warwick University, the lead on the original study, to shoot back that they did their research, while thanking the other team for their critique and claiming he welcomes disagreements as they are good for science, the report states.
The fundamental thing they disagree with are whether the chimps behavior and vocalizations change when the chimps moved from the Netherlands to Scotland. The original team believes they changed their call for apples from an excited high-pitched tone to a lower-pitched one. However, the skeptical team says that the calls actually appear quite similar to them.
Since it’s down to interpretation of the data, this is a debate that’s not likely to go away anytime soon.