Even goats have accents!

Feb 16, 2012, 18:09 IST | PTI

Goats 'can develop their own accents' from their surroundings, when they move away from their siblings and mingle with others, a study has claimed.

British researchers have found that a goats' "accent" changed as they grew older and moved in different groups, disproving claims that their voices were entirely genetic. The animals develop their own speaking voice when they move away from their siblings and mingle with others.

The research team, from Queen Mary University of London, said their findings are the first to suggest that most mammals can develop an accent from their surroundings.

Previously, only a select group of mammals including humans, elephants and dolphins were thought to be able to pick up an accent. Experts assumed that other species' "voices" were dictated by genetics and not their surroundings.

The findings have caused great excitement in the science community amid suggestions that "if goats can do it, maybe all mammals accents can be affected by their surroundings".

"We found that genetically related kids produced similar calls, which is not that surprising," Dr Elodie Briefer, who led the study, was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying.

"But the calls of kids raised in the same social groups were also similar to each other, and became more similar as the kids grew older. This suggests that goat kids modify their calls according their social surroundings, developing similar 'accents'." Researchers looked at four groups of pygmy goats, all of whom were siblings or half siblings.

Goats were monitored at one week old, when they tend to stay hidden from predators in sibling groups, and again at five weeks old when they form larger social groups with other animals of the same age, known as cr ches.

The results, published in journal Animal Behaviour, disproved claims that the voices of goats were entirely genetic and showed that the goats' "accents" underwent changes as they grew older and moved in different groups.

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