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July 12 2013

Eavesdropping Lemurs Tune Into the Forest Soundtrack to Survive


One of the ways that primates avoid predators is with the use of alarm calls. If a lemur, monkey, or ape detects a predator, he or she shrieks, warning the rest of the social group. These alarm calls are automatic and reflexive. Just as you canít help but kick you leg when the doctor strikes your knee, the monkey canít help but produce the alarm call. Some species even have different alarm calls to distinguish between aerial predators, like eagles or hawks, and terrestrial predators, like big cats or snakes. To avoid becoming somebody elseís dinner, the Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis) eavesdrops on other speciesí communications.

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