Orang-utans play the instrument to ward of predators

When leopards, tigers, snakes or humans approaches, orang-utans make a “kiss-squeak”, a noise produced by doing a sharp intake of breath through pursed lips, to let the predators know they’ve been spotted. Some orang-utans have learned to make a similar but deeper sound using leaves. The New Scientist writes:

“When you’re walking the forest and you meet an orang-utan that not habituated to humans, they’ll start giving kiss squeaks and breaking branches,” says Madeleine Hardus, a primatologist at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who documented the practice among wild apes in Indonesian Borneo.

She contends that orang-utans use leaves to make kiss squeaks to deceive predators, such as leopards, snakes and tigers, as to their actual size – a deeper call indicating a larger animal.

The instruments are simple, made by folding vegetation and blowing through it, but they are the first known manufactured instrument by a non-human. Here’s a short recording from National Geographic:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s only a matter of time before they learn to build a tuba.


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