Chimps show off their ‘signature’ drum beats
The chimps combine long distance calls with drumming – A SOLDATI
“I was surprised that I was able to recognise who was drumming after just a few weeks in the forest,” she said. “But their drumming rhythms are so distinctive that it’s easy to pick up on them.”
Ms Eleuteri described one young male chimp, that researchers have named Tristan, as “the John Bonham (late Led Zeppelin drummer) of the forest”.
“He makes these very long drumming bouts with lots of beats and you can tell them from far away, so you can just tell it’s Tristan drumming.”
“If you’re showing off to a group around you – if you’re displaying – you might not necessarily want the big alpha male who’s around the corner to know who you are,” said Dr Hobaiter. “You don’t want to give the game away.”
She added that understanding chimps’ drumming in this way could solve a longstanding communication puzzle: wild chimpanzees greet each other when they meet, but they do not seem to “say goodbye” when they split off in the forest.
“The chimps might not need to say goodbye, because they’re effectively able to keep in touch while they’re away,” Dr Hobaiter explained.
“These long distance signals give the chimps a way to check in with one another. That might help us to understand one of these things that we thought was a real difference between chimps and humans, and help us to understand why that difference might have come about.