New Study Finds Gibbons Sing Duet-Like Songs To Build Social Bonds

Researchers just discovered something new about the singing lar gibbons: They appear to use their songs to strengthen social bonds, particularly with members of the opposite gender.

For the study, researchers with the University of Turin in Italy worked alongside colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Aarhus University in Denmark, and the Royal Academy of Music in England.

Photo: YouTube/New Scientist

What they discovered is that lar gibbons seem to repeat notes more regularly when singing as a duet with a member of the opposite gender.

The researchers worked with lar gibbons at a wildlife sanctuary in Thailand and at a zoo in Italy to record and study their songs, which is how they determined that the duets can be used to establish social bonds.

Photo: YouTube/New Scientist

The study, titled “Isochrony and rhythmic interaction in ape duetting,” was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

While the results of the study are certainly fascinating, the researchers originally set out to learn more about the origins of rhythm in humans.

Photo: Flickr/tontantravel License: CC BY-SA 2.0

As shared in the study, “One cross-cultural universal, frequently found in human music, is isochrony: when note onsets repeat regularly like the ticking of a clock. Another universal consists in synchrony…we test for the presence of, and a link between, isochrony and synchrony in a non-human animal.”

You can hear the gibbons sing in the video below:

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