Fight erupts between scientists over whether chimps have accents

Fight erupts between scientists over whether chimps have accents

A controversial new study is raising eyebrows in the scientific world about how chimps communicate.

A new fight has erupted between scientists over whether chimps have accents.

One study found that chimps can adapt their grunts to communicate with new neighbors based on a group of chimps that was observed after being moved to the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland after living in a Dutch safari park, according to a BBC report.

A new study, however, was published in the journal Current Biology that suggests that these results are wrong, prompting the original research team to say no, you’re wrong.

Dr. James Higham of New York University is leading the charge for the skeptics, claiming that there were a bunch of problems with the original study, both in terms of methods and a misinterpretation of data.

Dr. Simon Townsend of Warwick University struck back about his original study, which was compiled with help from researchers at York and St. Andrews, arguing that the team has addressed all points — although he thanked the skeptics for the critique and said “this is exactly how science works” according to the BBC report.

Townsend arrived at their findings by studying behavior and vocalizations by the formerly Dutch chimps after they shifted to Edinburgh, and they noticed a change in the call that chimps appeared to use for apples. They went from using a high-pitched grunt to a more low-pitched one that was similar to their new neighbors.

This was surprising to the researchers because the new calls sounded less excited, and they had thought that chimps were making an excited sound because they really liked apples.

However, the critics weren’t so easily swayed by this argument. They said that the calls were actually quite similar, and re-plotted the data that was released by the original researchers so they could see how similar they were. It’s basically an argument over how to interpret the data.



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