For a long time, people thought a prairie dog chirp just meant “Danger!” Then Con Slobodchikoff recorded the chirps, slowed them down and analyzed them. Turns out they mean more like “The tall man in the red shirt is coming this way again and this time there’s a dog with him!”
How many other animals might have complex forms of communication, if we made the effort to listen? In his book Chasing Doctor Dolittle, Slobodchikoff explores dog and cat communication, whale song, lizard body language, and much more. He also chats with us about the possibility of using computers to analyze sounds and body language to tell us what animals are saying — and even talk back to them in their own language.
Listen right now: