Chimps communicate by banging on trees with their own signature drum beats

Many animals signal to each other vocally or by banging on things, but new research in a Ugandan rainforest shows that each chimpanzee pounds on tree roots with its own individual signature drum beat to send messages more than 1km away. Combined with their hooting and hollering, it sounds like free jazz to me. From the BBC News:

The scientists say that the signature rhythms allow them to send information over long distances, revealing who is where, and what they are doing[…]

Lead researcher on this study, PhD student Vesta Eleuteri from the University of Vienna, described how some individuals have a more regular rhythm, like rock and blues drummers, while some have more variable rhythms, like jazz.

"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."

image: Patrick Rolands/Shutterstock