Monkey responses to three different alarm calls: evidence of predator classification and semantic communication

Science. 1980 Nov 14;210(4471):801-3. doi: 10.1126/science.7433999.


Vervet monkeys give different alarm calls to different predators. Recordings of the alarms played back when predators were absent caused the monkeys to run into trees for leopard alarms, look up for eagle alarms, and look down for snake alarms. Adults call primarily to leopards, martial eagles, and pythons, but infants give leopard alarms to various mammals, eagle alarms to many birds, and snake alarms to various snakelike objects. Predator classification improves with age and experience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cercopithecidae / physiology*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Predatory Behavior
  • Vocalization, Animal