Like human language, orangutans change and develop their vocal behaviour depending on their social situation.
Human language is very fluid, changing with social contexts and shifting over time, and a new study from Warwick University researchers shows that the same is true for orangutans.
It was previously thought that the orangutan’s ‘kiss-squeak’ alarm call was hardwired and instinctive, but the study shows that the call can change in duration and pitch, and that the rate of change is influenced by how dense the orangutan community is. In larger communities, new variations come up more rapidly – the orangutans are trying to be the most novel and stand out in the cacophony of different calls, the researchers said.
You can read more about this fascinating research here