As a result of mastering this chapter, the student must:


• what is meant by the term communications animals

• structure and principle of operation of analyzer systems;

• features of the development of communicative systems of animals inhabiting different conditions, and animals of different systematic groups;

• similarity and difference between the first and second signaling systems;

be able to

• Analyze the role of animal communication as a way of regulating behavior;

• operate with terms used to describe communications;


• the skills of conducting a comparative analysis of the types of communication of animals of different systematic groups.

Animal language

All living beings live in a very complex world, full of information and various contacts with various objects of living and inanimate nature. Each population, be it insects, fish, birds or mammals, is not a random accumulation of individuals, but a completely definite, ordered, organized system. The maintenance of order and organization of this system arises as a result of the clash of interests of individual animals, each of which determines its place and position, focusing on its fellow humans. To do this, animals should be able to communicate to themselves similar about their needs and the possibilities of achieving them. This is achieved through various signaling methods, which, by analogy with our own methods of communication, can be conditionally called the "language".

The language of animals is a rather complex concept and is not limited only to the sound communication channel. An important role in the exchange of information is played by the language of postures and body movements. A bared mouth, a wavy hair, claws released, a threatening snarl or hissing quite convincingly testify to the aggressive intentions of the beast. In such a language, animals play an enormous role, for example, the tail and ears. Their numerous characteristic positions testify to various nuances of moods and intentions of the owner, the importance of which is not always clear to the observer, but it is obvious for the relatives of the animal. Ritual matrimonial dance of birds is also a complex system of postures and movements, which transfers information of a completely different kind to the partner.

The most important element of the language of animals is the language of smells. To see this, it is enough to observe the dog that went out for a walk: with what concentrated attention and thoroughness it sniffs all the pillars and trees on which there are labels of other dogs, and leaves its own in the same place. Many animals have special glands that release a specific smell that is specific for this species, the traces of which the animal leaves at the places of its stay and thereby marks the boundaries of its territory. Ants, amicably running an endless chain along a narrow path, are guided by the smell left on the ground by ahead individuals.

An audible language is of utmost importance for animals. In order to obtain information using the language of poses and gestures, animals must see each other. The language of smells suggests that the animal is located near the place where another beast is or has been visited. The advantage of the language of sounds is that it allows the animals to communicate without seeing each other, for example, in total darkness and far away. So, the trumpet voice of a deer calling for a friend and calling on the opponent's fight is carried for many kilometers. The most important feature of the language of animals is its emotional nature. Signals include exclamations with the value Caution! "," Caution, danger! "," Save yourself, who can! "," Get out! " etc. Many animals in the lexicon have only a dozen or so sound signals. For example, the American yellow-throated groundhog has only eight of them, but with these signals marmots are able to communicate to each other much more information than information on eight possible situations. The meaning of most animal signals is probabilistic, depending on the situation.

Thus, the language of most animals is a collection of specific signals: sound, olfactory, visual, etc., which act in this situation and involuntarily reflect the state of the animal at that particular moment.

The animals distinguish each other well by voice, the female recognizes the male, the cubs, and those, in turn, perfectly distinguish the voices of the parents. However, unlike human speech, which has the ability to transmit endless volumes of complex information not only concrete but also abstract, the animal language is always concrete, that is, it signals a specific environment or animal state. This is the fundamental difference between the language of animals and human speech, the properties of which are predetermined by the extraordinarily developed abilities of the human brain to abstract thinking.

The bulk of signals transmitted through the channels of the main types of communication, has no direct addressee. This natural languages ​​of animals are fundamentally different from the language of man, which functions under the control of consciousness and will. All the diversity of signals in different species along the semantic value fits into about ten main categories:

1) signals intended for sexual partners and possible competitors;

2) signals providing information exchange between parents and offspring;

3) cries of anxiety;

4) messages about the presence of food;

5) signals that help maintain contact between members of the pack;

6) signals - "switches", intended to prepare the animal for the action of subsequent stimuli. Such, for example, are the postures characteristic of many animals, "invitations to the game";

7) signals - "intentions" preceding any reaction: for example, birds make special movements with wings before take-off;

8) signals associated with the expression of aggression;

9) signals of peacefulness;

10) signals of dissatisfaction (frustration).

Most of the animal signals are strictly species-specific, but many of them can be quite informative for representatives of other species. These are, for example, cries of alarm, reports of food or signals of aggression.

The communication systems used by animals, IP Pavlov called the first signal system . He stressed that this system is common for animals and humans, because to obtain information about the surrounding world, a person uses virtually the same communication systems.

The human language allows you to send information also in abstract form, using words - symbols, which are signals of other, specific signals. That is why I. II. Pavlov called the word the signal signal, and speech - the second alarm system , which allows not only to respond to specific incentives and momentary events, but in an abstract form store and transfer information about missing items, and about past and future events, and not just about the current moment . Unlike the communicative systems of animals, human language serves not only as a means of transmitting information, but also as an apparatus for its processing. It is necessary to ensure the supreme cognitive function of man - abstract-logical (verbal) thinking. The human language is an open system, the supply of signals in which is practically unlimited, at the same time the number of signals in the repertoire of natural languages ​​of animals is small. Audio speech - is only one means of implementing the functions of the human language, if necessary, it can have other forms of expression, for example different systems of gestures, i.e. languages ​​of deaf-mutes.

The speech of a person is an unrivaled system of abstraction from specific objects and phenomena of the surrounding reality, which is unequaled in its complexity and perfection, which determines our purely human abilities and needs, such as thinking, consciousness and self-awareness, science, art, the highest forms of social and social behavior. That abyss that divides the intellect of man and animals, it was due to the development of speech. But at the same time, we must not forget that we are an inseparable part of nature, only one of the numerous branches of a huge phylogenetic tree, which has one root. Being the "crown of creation", man by nature represents the unity of biological and social, material and spiritual, conscious and unconscious. Whatever function of the human body we consider - movement, nutrition, reproduction, etc. - we find in it the features of both human and animal.

Our speech is not an exception in this sense. Along with purely human properties - the possibility of transmitting endless volumes of information of an abstract nature - it also reveals features of a certain similarity to the system of sound signals of higher animals. The similarity lies in the ability of a person's voice in the process of speaking to convey to the listener information about his emotional state. The ability of animals to communicate in a voice about their emotional state is well known. So, we feel a state of discomfort, hearing the anxious cry of crows, and the evening song of the dawn, on the contrary, acts upon us soothingly. Hearing the irritated buzzing of wasps, we try to move away. According to the voice of even an unfamiliar dog, we perfectly understand the mood in which she currently resides - in anger, joy, fear or sorrow. Similarly, a dog, like many other animals, not understanding human speech, perfectly understands our emotional intonations.

Darwin also drew attention to the generality of the emotionally expressive properties of man and animals. In his famous works "The expression of emotions in humans and animals" and "The Origin of Man and Sexual Selection". he gives this argument in favor of animal origin of man.

The human language did not come to naught. Now more and more information is accumulating that the languages ​​of primates and, apparently, of other highly organized animals sometimes go beyond the species-specific communication system. It is known, for example, that in the language of swirls, green monkeys and chimpanzees, there are sound signals for the designation of specific objects and phenomena, in particular of various predator species. They denote not the "predator in general". as a danger, but specifically a leopard, a snake, etc. Similarly, there are signals to indicate not any food for satisfying hunger, but a certain food. The sound signals of chimpanzees are also not only species-specific, but can transmit completely new specific information.

There is an assumption that the natural system of chimpanzee communication is intermediate between the human language and the communicative systems of other animals. In connection with this, it is sometimes called the "proto-language", which is in fact the rudiment of the second signaling system.

At present, it is possible to say with certainty about the presence of specific languages ​​ in primates, as well as in some other highly organized animals: dolphins, parrots, and also crooked birds.

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