Author Topic: Animal interaction/communication  (Read 3907 times)

Offline Daniel

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Animal interaction/communication
« on: September 16, 2014, 02:28:17 PM »
Ok, I know this is pretty unrelated to linguistics, but this behavior from an eel surprised me a lot, so I think it can remind us that animals may be thinking/doing a lot more than we usually assume.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IQ2I-P8Ucw



I actually had an encounter like that with a sea lion once. I was in the Galapagos and was ahead of the rest of the group for snorkeling (they'd stopped at the bathrooms), and there were two sea lions sitting on the dock. They jumped in the water when they saw me, but one stayed pretty close and then once I got in swam up to me and did a few laps around me. I was pretty sure it was just curious and playing, though it definitely had some teeth (so Spanish lobo del mar 'sea wolf' isn't too far off).
I'll attach an image from that, which isn't zoomed in, just of the sea lion swimming around me.


Again, this is off topic, but it does remind me of the prairie dogs video I posted a while ago (can get the link again if someone needs it) and other discussion of surprising animal communication.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 02:32:57 PM by djr33 »
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2014, 08:10:59 PM »
Perhaps, or perhaps this eel just likes the free fish. :)

Offline Daniel

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2014, 11:21:16 PM »
It seems like it is more than just hungry-- aware of who this is (I suppose another diver could try out the same strategy to test it) and actually likes interaction? Or maybe just aware that interaction means more fish? But that seems like an odd behavior to guess.
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2014, 11:49:31 PM »
Sure, why wouldn't the eel know who this lady is? If someone started showing up at my house periodically with a no-strings-attached prosciutto and manchego sandwich, I'd remember it too!

Animals are aware of plenty of things, including individuals of other species over periods of time. There's nothing controversial about that. Whether they *communicate* in more than a signal-oriented behaviorist sense, however, is a very different question.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2014, 12:38:06 AM »
Right. I'm not claiming this is any evidence of communication, just what I think is fairly unexpected behavior. It seems to be behaving more like a cat than an eel. (But I wouldn't say that the way cats act suggests they necessarily 'communicate' in any way beyond other animals.)
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Offline Guijarro

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2014, 01:53:45 AM »
I confess, I am a bit confused.

I can't for the life of me believe that you have any doubt as to the communicative interaction some species are able to perform. So, then, what's the problem? You couldn't imagine this kind of communicative interaction with a mosquito, I presume. And the communication is clearer when we interact with a dog.

So, it seems we can establish a continuum in the ability of different species to interact and to communicate (it all depends on what we want to describe "interaction" and/or "communication". Is that not painfully obvious?

Maybe I am missing something?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2014, 07:27:47 AM »
In the sense of communication=interaction, this is clearly an example. In the sense of communication=language, this is clearly not an example. Does that clarify?
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Offline Guijarro

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2014, 09:48:39 AM »
Aha!

You mean LANGUAGE as coded material which points to different situations or objects?

Do these beasts have such a device? Do we know how to decode it?

In any case, as human language does not work that way (it only gives us the means to create quite accurate premises which are then processed along other premises --contextual, etc., which help us infer the intentional messages of our interlocutors), in my view, this nice animal DOES engage in communication using other props not fabricated via human language, but which may be inferred and, therefore, interpreted.

Or am I still missing the point?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2014, 11:12:16 AM »
I agree. But as I said in my first post, this is a bit off topic: I don't mean to make any direct claims about language in this, just that I think it's an interesting video about unexpected behavior from an animal :)
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Offline zaba

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2014, 09:42:53 AM »
Quote
So, it seems we can establish a continuum in the ability of different species to interact and to communicate (it all depends on what we want to describe "interaction" and/or "communication". Is that not painfully obvious?

It's presumptuous to posit a continuum since it isn't at all obvious how to determine if a being "interacts" / "communicates" more/less than another. On what basis can such an assessment be made? A human-centric one would miss the point. Insects and plants have complex ways to communicate, who's to say if it's more/less than how turtles communicate? Are pheromones more complex than making sounds and/or sonar?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2014, 11:07:15 AM »
It might be a multi-dimensional continuum. That's often what "continuum" means anyway (as it is [mis?]used in science), I think. It just means it isn't a strict dichotomy.

So measuring "more" or "less" might not be possible if it's multidimensional. But that doesn't make the gradience any less real.

On the other hand, the fact that we don't have definitions for these things means we can't know either whether there is necessarily gradience or not-- perhaps once defined there will be categorical differences. I doubt it, but we would need definitions to be sure.
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Offline zaba

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2014, 05:20:39 AM »
Impossible to have a continuum without any idea of what sits at or at least near the edges, relatively speaking.

Offline freknu

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2014, 06:06:56 AM »
Impossible to have a continuum without any idea of what sits at or at least near the edges, relatively speaking.

Not really.

Any continuous dimension — be it definite or indefinite, or even infinite — with an indistinct transition between any arbitrary points can be said to be a continuum, e.g. space-time continuum, dialectal continuum, and so on.

In this case we don't have any definite extents of the continuum, but from observation we can speculate that communication and language is not necessarily a diametrical of (human) communication versus no communication at all, and that there is probably no clear boundaries between the degrees of communication and language.

We may or may not possess such a complex capability for communication that the gap between humans and other animals is notable — I like to use Koko and Kanzi and counterpoints to such a speculation — but even so, it would not negate the observation that communication and language does not seem to be "stepped", but rather a continuum of varying capability.

Since we hardly understand animal communication as it is, it's very difficult to try and categorise different animals by their capability for communication and language, and even as complex as we might think of our human communication, I would dare say that it would be very arrogant to think of our form and state of communication as superior or even more complex ... we simply don't know yet.

However, it would probably be somewhat foolhardy to claim that communication and language is a landscape of peaks and valleys, rather than a continuous slope. Whatever Chomsky and others may say, I find it difficult to believe that our capability for language would have been as abrupt as some make it out to be.

That language itself could have grown non-linearly is nothing I disagree with, but that does not necessitate an equally non-linear growth in our inherent capabilities.

Perhaps that's the problem? The confusion of capability and the emergent expression of said capability?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2014, 08:38:22 AM »
Quote
Impossible to have a continuum without any idea of what sits at or at least near the edges, relatively speaking.
Knowledge and existence are not associated. There are many things that exist in the universe that science has not yet discovered. It would be a mistake to think that gravity didn't exist before Newton, that evolution didn't exist before Darwin, etc.
Certainly it should be possible to (in optimal circumstances) find out this information, but that doesn't mean we know it now.

The real issue is whether it's gradient or categorical.
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Offline zaba

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Re: Animal interaction/communication
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2014, 10:03:48 AM »
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Since we hardly understand animal communication as it is, it's very difficult to try and categorise different animals by their capability for communication and language, and even as complex as we might think of our human communication, I would dare say that it would be very arrogant to think of our form and state of communication as superior or even more complex ... we simply don't know yet.

Yes, that's my point. It's hard to say which beings have more or less communicative abilities than others. It seems premature and arrogant to posit a continuum, like those medieval chains of being: God-angel-man-mammal-amphibian-fish-insect-plant. Simplistic and anti intellectual. Do bats have more communicative abilities with sonar than ants with pheromones? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.