I want to state that I believe in the theories of Frans de Waal ( ) that address that every complex trait in humans being is the resoult of a evolutive history and hence it can be found, though in different state of complexitiy and development, in other species as well. And communication is one of these traits.
As I'm afraid that my question is going to be long, because I love this subject, I upload the video that talks about parrots and names here, if you want to find out more, is in the end of this answer :).
Here come some examples, some of them are more accepted than others.
Vervet monkeys make specifical sounds to alert of specific dangers, we could call them specific words.During the 1960s, researcher Tom Struhsaker of the New York Zoological Society carried out a study of vervet monkeys in Kenya's Amboseli National Park. He discovered that vervets have different alarm calls for their three main enemies: leopards, eagles, and snakes. Most interesting of all, he found that each type of call caused the vervets that heard it to behave in a very different way – a way that would help protect them from that particular predator. When the vervets heard a "leopard" alarm call, they would scamper up the nearest trees. An "eagle" call caused the monkeys to look up at the sky and head for thick, low-lying bushes. Finally, a "snake" call made the animals stand up on their hind legs and peer into the long grass around them.
Souce of the image and the quote: . In spite that this investigation was very controversial in its time it is well accepted and often cited in studies and articles about animal communication.
TalkBank Ethology Data: Field Recordings of Vervet Monkey Calls
Dolphins using phones!.
has an article outlining the successes of a mother dolphin communicating with her baby using a telephone. Researchers noted that it appeared that both dolphins knew who they were speaking with and what they were speaking about. Nowadays, scientists are intrigued by the dolphins’ language and are attempting to “crack the code.” Not only do dolphins communicate via nonverbal cues, but they also seem to chatter and respond to other dolphin’s vocalizations.
- – It was long believed that dolphins were never able to demonstrate the ability to communicate in their own language, but in light of a recent discovery, this may have been incorrect. With the use of a researchers have discovered that dolphins are now using their whistles to communicate more than just a simple hello to one another. They are discussing their : names, ages, locations, genders, etc. It only makes sense that one of the world’s most intelligent animals has a language that they use to convey information to one another. Just like each person has his or her own unique voice, each dolphin has its own unique whistle sound, allowing each dolphin to maintain a separate identity, similar to humans. Although this may be nothing spectacular, dolphins are able to create new sounds and whistles when trying to attract a mate. Another interesting point is that in most (if not all) groups, there is a designated leader. The leader is responsible for communicating with other groups’ leaders, discussing possible things such as demographics or locations of food and danger. Remarkably, dolphins can hear one another up to 6 miles apart underwater through a method called .
(On a side note, there are many more examples of animal communication in this article of Wikipedia).
Although, as it is easy of understand, this statement of dolphins using phones can be very controversial, the core of this research is to show that the signals used by dolphins are quite more complex and specifical than general calls or group songs as it was formely believed.
Bees dances to indicate where is the food.Curiosly this well acepted concept is being under debate in the last years. I put this here to put a specific example of animals talking about food, because this aspect of animal communication is not well researched, and also because if these bees don't dance for displaying where is the food, they are also showing a very complicated behaviour that deserves attention:
- - used to communicate direction and distance of food source in many species of bees
And finally, my favourite one: parrots giving name to their chicks!
Scientists have known for some time that parrots use these signature calls to refer to each other. Observing the process in captive birds led researchers to wonder how wild parrots dealt with naming, because it could show how names are given. The researchers felt there were two possibilities for how parrots get their names: it could be biologically innate (each bird names itself) or assigned by another older bird, which turned out to be the case.Source of the quote:
For the study, the researchers placed video cameras in 16 green-rumped parrot nests in Venezula. These birds are part of a large wild population that has been living in nesting tubes rigged up by scientists in 1987. The researchers then moved around the parrot eggs so that half of the colony were raising babies that weren’t theirs genetically. Recordings of the calls made by the parents before the chicks were able to chirp , and of the calls once the chicks were individually vocal showed that parents started making the calls when the birds were very young. Additionally, the recordings showed that the parent’s calls provided a basis on which the baby would imitate and tweak their own name. The names bore more similarity to the parents that raised the offspring, than the biological parents, suggesting that the calls are in fact learned by the chicks rather than innate.
Parrots are not the only animals known to have names. In addition to humans, dolphins also use specific names for each individual.