Wolf species speak in distinct howling ‘dialects’

Wolf species speak in distinct howling ‘dialects’

Wolves have distinctive howling repertoires and they speak in distinct howling ‘dialects,’ one of the biggest studies ever done on canid howling revealed.

An international team of researchers ran more than two thousand different recorded howls from 13 canid species and subspecies, including wolves, jackals and domestic dogs, through a software algorithm that categorized them to 21 howl types depending on different characteristics like pitch.

The team found that different species of wolves use the howl types in specific ways. For instance, Timber wolves use a preponderance of low, flat howls; while Red wolves use higher vocals.

Researcher Arik Kershenbaum, of the University of Cambridge, said, “Understanding the communication of existing social species is essential to uncovering the evolutionary trajectories that led to more complex communication in the past, eventually leading to our own linguistic ability.”

He explained that wolves might not be close to humans taxonomically, but ecologically their behavior in a social structure is amazingly close to that of humans.

The researchers are hopeful that the study would help in conservation efforts being made to revive populations of some critically endangered species of wolves.