Meerkats use a variety of vocalizations to communicate in their tightly knit social groups, but all that talking takes coordination. And that coordination takes skill. Meerkats are particularly fond of communicating when they are “sunning”, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Meerkats’ “sunning calls” are a special vocalization that only occurs during this behavior. In a study on the patterns of sunning call production, researchers found that meerkats inhibit their own calls during and shortly after the vocalizations of their groupmates. This vocal turn-taking may have a bonding function similar to conversation between humans!
Painting by Emily Grout. Emily studies the coordination of communication in social carnivores. You can read more about the project here: https://arianasp9.wixsite.com/ccas-project
Fact by Alexander Vining
Source: Demartsev, V., Strandburg-Peshkin, A., Ruffner, M., & Manser, M. (2018). Vocal turn-taking in meerkat group calling sessions. Current Biology, 28(22), 3661-3666.