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Orangutans use slang to ‘show off their coolness’, study suggests

By Nicola Davis

21 Mar 2022 · 2 min read

Whether it is the rapidly shifting patois of teenagers or curious words found long-buried in the local argot of a rural community, our vocabularies are shaped by our social environs. Now, it seems, such influences might also be at play among orangutans.

Researchers studying the “kiss-squeak” alarm calls of wild communities of the apes in Borneo and Sumatra have found that rather than such sounds being innate and hardwired, as was long thought, orangutans are able to come up with new versions of the calls, varying in pitch and duration.

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