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Feb 10, 2016 01:59 PM EST

Various Wolf Species Have Different Howls

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Different kinds of wolves have different howling dialects similar to how language has evolved with humans from various parts of the world.

Published in the journal Behavioural Processes, the new study examined the differences in various canid species' howls. For their work, the researchers analyzed 2,000 recorded howls from 13 canid species, according to Discovery News.

"Wolves may not be close to us taxonomically, but ecologically their behavior in a social structure is remarkably close to that of humans. That's why we domesticated dogs -- they are very similar to us," study lead author Arik Kershenbaum, of the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology, said in a press release. "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."

The researchers think they can use their work to aid conservationists and also to help explain the evolution of human language.

"You don't observe natural wolf behavior in zoos, only in the wild, and you need to know where the animals are when howling before you can really begin to try and discern meanings. But, as with dolphin pods, physically following a wild wolf pack is virtually impossible," Kershenbaum said. "We are currently working on research in Yellowstone National Park in the US using multiple recording devices and triangulation technology to try and pick up howl sounds and location. In this way we might be able to tell whether certain calls relate to distance communication or pack warnings, for example."

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