Animal Communication

Animal Communication Photo credit: Clipart.com


All animal species have some capacity for communication but communication abilities range from very simple to extremely complex, depending upon the species. Communication is influenced by a species' genetic makeup, its environment, and the numerous ways by which animals and humans respond to and adapt to their surroundings. You'll learn more about this topic by doing the activities on this student esheet.


Go to the Orangutan U Science Update. Read the transcript from the show (the audio file no longer works) and then read the accompanying research. As you read the article, think about the following questions (you can record your answers to them on your Animal Communication student sheet):

  • What is Rob Shumaker having the orangutans do?
  • What must be in the orangutan's response, in order for it to be correct?
  • What will Shumaker focus on first as he and the orangutans start working on math? Do you remember the first mathematical thing you learned?
  • Why would it be important to have an understanding of the similarities orangutans have to humans when it comes to learning or communicating?
  • What are some other ways humans might communicate with primates?

Now go to and read All Animals Communicate. When you are finished, answer these questions on your Animal Communication student sheet:

  • Are humans constantly communicating? How about other animals?
  • Are there any special areas in human brains that make us distinct from other animals?
  • Which animals have communication abilities that are close to humans?
  • Do scientists believe that chimps have a language like humans?
  • What are some examples of ways that humans can communicate that are different from other animals?

Read these articles:

When you are finished, answer these questions on your student sheet:

  • Is the ability to communicate the exclusive possession of human beings?
  • List some of the ways that animals express themselves
  • Who do you think will have greater communication abilities: a dog that lives in a regular home or a dog that lives in a circus. Why?

Knowledge Check

Write a brief essay explaining this statement:

Although all species have some capacity for communication, there is a range of abilities among species.

Be sure to provide examples from the resources you have explored in this lesson.

If you'd like, you can visit these websites to learn more about animal communication.

This esheet is a part of the Animal Communication lesson.

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Esheet Details