Heard a hyrax sing.

Sing??? Until five minutes ago, I never heard of a hyrax…

The rock hyrax surprises with syntax skills

Procavia capensis

The small mammal is extremely vocal: males sing complex songs that can last for several minutes.

But now scientists have discovered that the order of the notes is significant, suggesting that the songs have syntax.

They also found that hyraxes from different regions had a different dialect when they warbled.

This research places the hyrax in a small and eclectic group of skilled animal communicators, including primates, whales, birds and bats.

Arik Kershenbaum, the lead author of the study, from the University of Haifa in Israel, said: “This is something you find very, very rarely amongst mammals.”

Love songs

The rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) is a social mammal, which lives in large groups, and is found in the Middle East and Africa.

The singing creatures are social and live in large groups

It is well known locally for its song, and scientists believe that males use these vocalisations to advertise their wares.

The team who carried out the study recorded singing hyraxes in nine regions around Israel.

Dr Kershenbaum said: “A typical hyrax song can last for several minutes, and their songs are broken down into small bouts, with each bout lasting for maybe 10 to 20 seconds.

“Each bout is composed of a number of notes, which we call the syllables. There are only a very small number of syllables that make up a hyrax song, and each sound is very distinct.

“And out of these, you can make up a whole language and combine them in an infinite number of ways.”

Source: BBC News Read more and hear their song

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