Man is the most intelligent animal created by God because, God has given him language which other animals do not have. That is why man is also called the social animal. Communication makes life extremely convenient and easy. Language plays a very important role in life as any emotion can be easily and effectively conveyed through language to whomsoever we want to convey it to. But all this is applicable and beneficial only to human beings. What about animals? How do they communicate with each other? Do they have an animal language as such? Pearce (1987) finds a definition of animal communication which says, "Animal Communication is the transmission of a signal from one animal to another such that the sender benefits, on average, from the response of the recipient." This shows that all animal species can communicate with each other using several mediums other than language, which are dealt with, in the following parts.
Types of Animal Communication
We all know that animals do not have the ability to use language as a medium for communication. But they do have other means of conveying messages to other animals, amongst which use of body language is the most important factor. The messages can be of many types like conveying food location, calling for mating rituals, danger alarms, appreciation of good deeds like helping other animals in dangerous situations, etc. There are different types of communication in animals, which will be addressed in this segment. Different species use different types of communication. There are two main types of communication in animals and they are further divided into subtypes.
Sound is one of the most common type of verbal communication in animals, and majority of the species use it as the medium to convey messages. Bats for example, are nocturnal and have to rely on sound waves to communicate. All birds communicate through their chirping and it is ultrasound waves that they use. Mammals generally make use of sounds to give calls to other members of their community. Smaller animals squeak and larger ones rumble. Studies have shown that animals with small heads can produce really loud sounds and are able to respond to a greater frequency of sound! Whales are the perfect examples, who use sound waves for communication. They have a whale song, which they repeat after regular intervals to convey danger, distress, happiness, warnings, etc. Other animals like dogs and cats also use a variety of sounds to convey messages to other animals. For example, when a dog whines, it may mean that the dog is in pain. If not, the whines can also be an indication that it wants to play.
This kind of communication is mostly found in dogs. When they are angry, they snarl and raise their ears. On the other hand, when they are frightened, they pull their ears behind and open their mouth. Also, in birds, when the parent bird brings food for the offspring, the 'begging expression' can be observed on the offspring's face. Chimpanzees use lip, cheek and eye movements to tell their feelings to each other.
Gestures and Body Movements
This type of communication is common not only in animals, but in human beings too. All human beings, although they use language for communication, tend to use gestures and body movements as well while communicating. Honey bees are the most enthusiastic creatures on earth because they dance to communicate. Some bees dance around the hive so that other bees get signals of the location of the honey comb. Isn't it an interesting and unique way of communication? A deer waves its tail to warn others of impending danger. Gorillas stick their tongue out to express anger. When cats point their ears forward, it indicates their friendly interest and attentiveness whereas, when the ears are raised up and turned slightly backwards, it warns other cats of danger. If the body of the cat is stretched, then the cat is confident and ready to attack.
Smell and Signals
Many animals communicate with each other through smell. They all release pheromones (airborne chemicals) to convey messages to other animals. Wolves, deer and insects, generally use this type of communication. Even amoeba need to communicate and does it by chemical discharge. Animals use this type of communication to attract mates for reproduction. Hence, communication is important in the process of reproduction. 'Acoustic signal', a kind of sound signal mostly associated with vervet monkeys. They have an actual language containing three words; snake, eagle and leopard which warns other vervets about the respective threat. Similarly, electrical signal is common to aquatic animals like sharks and some other fish. These animals have electroreceptors to identify objects and dangers. They are useful because aquatic animals are confined to the aquatic environment.
Animals like chimpanzees, touch each others' hands to express feelings. A newcomer puts its hand in the mouth of the head monkey to confirm its entry in their community and then the process is reversed. The head monkey gives the visitor the assurance of safety and goodwill. They even give hugs and kisses to express love. Cats, rhinos and other animals snuggle each other to show affection. Elephants interlink their trunks for close communication. Male deer lock horns and fight with each other to show dominance.
Isn't it amazing to know various modes of communication used by animals without using words? On a concluding note, I would like to say that every creature on this earth needs communication to fulfill its social, physical, emotional and mental needs and it has been allotted, if not language, other convenient techniques to communicate with each other.