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Animal communication.

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Background

All animals have body parts and traits that enable them to communicate via signals. Communication is necessary for survival.

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All animals communicate by sending signals that can be smelled, seen, felt, or heard. They announce danger, attract a mate, and bond with their kin for hunting and travel. Air-breathing vertebrates send and receive chemical messages called pheromones that they smell through receptors in their noses, nostrils and tongues. Animals without bones, like ants, detect scent through receptors on their antennae.

Animals create visual signals with physical traits, and with body language. The male frigate birds on the Galapagos islands double their body size by puffing out bright red chest pouches to attract females. The white tailed deer flags its tail to announce danger to the rest of the herd. And, a skunk will stomp its back leg to warn an enemy when it's about to spray.

Touch is used to show affection, curiosity and dominance. Groundhogs rub noses to greet each other, and chimpanzees will bond over a back scratch. And, an elephant will rub her trunk over her baby or another adult to provide comfort, or to relax the group.

Elephants, whales, hippos, rhinos, alligators, and giraffes also communicate with a low frequency sound called infrasound. Infrasonic calls can travel effectively for miles though air, land and water to the animal's family members. Humans can only hear infrasound with the use of sensitive sound equipment.

Vocal sound, which not all species can make, is made through the use of an animal's respiratory system. Wolves howl, horses whinny, songbirds sing, and frogs croak, all through their voice boxes. Animals without voice boxes compensate by making non-vocal sounds. The grasshopper chirps for its mate by rubbing its wings together and the rattlesnake terrifies its predator by shaking the rattle on its tail.

Certain animals, like bats, humpback whales, mice, and songbirds, learn complicated songs with notes and patterns, These species have more complex brains than other animals. By studying their brains, scientists hope to understand the nuances of human speech--which is, of course. the most complicated animal communication system of all.

Animals tell each other what they want. Animals tell each other how they feel. Animals communicate (com-mu-ni-cate) with each other. Animals send signals (sig-nals) with sound, smells, displays (dis-plays) and touch.

Vocabulary

Write in the correct words.

A deer -- danger.

Mother animals -- with their babies.

A chimpanzee -- a happy face to start a game.

BONUS:

The word -- means to show off.

Adult Supervision Recommended

Weekly Lab

The Big Question: Can you identify (iden-ti-fy) each friend by his smell?

You need: a scarf for a blindfold and 5 classmates

Step 1: Sniff the neck of each classmate.

Step 2: Blindfold your eyes with the scarf.

Step 3: Again, sniff the neck of each friend. Can you tell who is who?

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Math

Look at the WEEKLY LAB. How many friends did you identify correctly? Were you correct, or incorrect, more often?

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I identified friends correctly.

Writing in science

How does your own skin smell? Communicate with descriptive words. Write two simple sentences. Use capitals and periods.

Challenge

Write the word displays Color the feathers on the peacock.

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To -- communicate, the peacock -- his feathers.

Adult Supervision Recommended

Bringing it Home

How do animals communicate with each other? Put a mark in the correct boxes.

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write letters

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send email

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make sound

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make a face

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change how they look

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leave a smell

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telephone a friend

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touch each other

TEACHING NOTES (TN) Supplement to Science Weekly Publication Pre-A through E

DID YOU KNOW??

When an elephant rubs its trunk over another adult, she is providing comfort.

Initiating Questions--Levels Pre-A--B

1. How do animals "talk" to each other? Do they use sound? What else?

2. What do animals communicate to each other?

3. How would one animal use all of its senses to communicate?

Follow-up Questions

4. How do animals use their bodies to communicate?

5. Do you think animals learn how to send signals, or are born knowing how?

6. How do you think animals without voice boxes communicate

7. How important do you think good communication is for animal survival?

Level Pre-A

DID YOU KNOW??

A voice box is the area where sound is created by moving vocal chords.

Main Concept: Students will be able to identify basic elements of animal communication: sound, touch, smell and the use of their bodies.

Vocabulary

Students will draw a line to the correct words to complete each sentence.

Answers: 1) sound; 2) touch; 3) smell; 4) bodies

Weekly Lab

Students are encouraged to communicate and interpret feelings with gesture and expression. This lab allows students to consider communication without the use of speech.

Math

From the WEEKLY LAB, have the students count the faces they made. Have them count the faces their partners made, They will identify which face made them feel good. Encourage the students to share their thoughts with the class,

Storytelling

Encourage students to think about a dog they know and then tell how it looks when it is happy, sad, or angry.

Challenge

Students observe the picture of the three dogs showing emotion with body language: one obviously happy, one sad, and one angry. They circle the happy dog. draw a square around the sad dog, and draw a triangle around the angry dog.

Bringing it Home

Students will draw a picture of themselves with a happy dog and one with an angry dog.

Level A

Main Concept: Students will be able to understand that animals communicate with signals sent via their senses.

Vocabulary

Students identify and write down the missing words

Answers: 1) signals; 2) communicate; 3) displays

Discuss the bonus word display(s) and how it means to show off strength, beauty, or skill.

Weekly Lab

Students learn to identify classmates by smell. By covering their eyes and focusing on the sense of smell, they understand how each sense is important to communication.

Encourage the students to take their time and really try to fully experience the subtleties of smell.

Math

From the WEEKLY LAB. have the students count their correct and incorrect identifications. Then. discuss whether students were correct or incorrect more often.

Writing in Science

Students will describe how their own skin smells They will write three simple sentences, using capitals. periods, and descriptive words. Encourage them to brainstorm descriptive words out loud.

Challenge

Students will write the word displays on the blank line and then color the peacock feathers. Reinforce the meaning of the word by telling how the peacock is showing off his bright feathers for the female.

Bringing it Home

Students are asked to make a mark (a check mark) next to the pictures and words that relate to animal communication.

Answers: makes sound; make a face; change how they look; leave a smell; touch each other.

Level B

Main Concept: Students are introduced to the concept of communication by chemical, visual, sound and tactile means, They learn that animals use their senses to communicate and that effective communication is important.

Vocabulary

Answers: 1) signals; 2) chemical; 3) visual; 4) senses; BONUS: touch

Weekly Lab

Students learn the importance of good communication. By creating a situation where effective communication is a means to a satisfying end, students will understand that animal communication is important to an animal's survival. Encourage students to discuss scenarios where effective communication can mean life or death to a wild animal.

Examples are: A single elephant discovers a waterhole in the dry savannah. She rumbles the information to her family, which is over a mile away, that she has found water What happens if the family misunderstands her message?

Math

From the WEEKLY LAB, have the students count the children in the circle and subtract five students, resulting in a sum of remaining students. They are then asked to add back five students to the remaining students, and complete the math sentence. Explain that this is a good way to check their work,

Writing in Science

Students will consider how they would communicate news that they won the lottery to members of their households. They are asked to think about all of their senses and should write four to five sentences,

Challenge

Students observe the picture of the two ants. each leaving an orange 'scent trail" behind him. Discuss with students why ants leave scent trails (so that the food source can be found again). Students are asked to measure the two trails and then record the answers in centimeters. Then, they are asked to add the trail lengths together.

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Answers: (left) 11 cm + (right) 13 cm = 24 cm total.

Puzzle

Students will observe a drawing of an elephant, dog. honeybee, fish. bird. whale, ant. snake and human. Students are asked to circle the animals that communicate with more than one sense. ALL of the animals communicate with multiple senses.

Initiating Questions--Levels C-E

1 How do animals communicate? How do they use their senses?

2. How do you think different animals smell the chemical messages sent by other animals?

3 How do you think animals create visual signals?

4 Do you think that some animals have more complex brains than others?

Follow-up Questions

5. Why do you think animals communicate with each other? What senses do they use to communicate? Are some animals better equipped to smell than others?

6. What are the ways animals use their bodies to communicate?

7. HOW does effective communication help animals survive?

8. DO you think any other animal has as complicated a brain as humans do? Why do you think humans have complex speech?

Level C

DID YOU KNOW??

When a house cat rubs against your legs it is marking you with a pheromone and saying, "You're mine!"

Main Concept: Students are introduced to animal communication. They will be able to identify the four necessary modes of communication: scent (or chemical), visual, tactile and sound.

Vocabulary

Answers:

1. Pheromones are chemical messages sent by animals.

2. We can see the visual signals that animals make with their bodies.

3. Tactile signals are those that can be felt.

BONUS: A low-pitched sound that humans can not hear is called infrasound.

Challenge

Answers:

1. An ant senses pheromones with its antennae.

2. Songbirds sing to attract mates and establish territory.

3. A mother dolphin moves her head up and down to signal to her young in the ocean.

4. When an elephant makes rumbling infrasound noises, they come from inside the upper part of its nose.

Weekly Lab

Mention that if a student's name is longer than two syllables, this may bias the experiment because the student will get a longer chance to hear the speaker's voice than when he hears the two syllable word (and opposite for students with one syllable names).

Discuss how familiar sound might affect communication, A male bird calls out to find a mate and a female usually responds, What if he calls and a frog hears the call? The frog might not recognize the bird, but it would usually duck for cover so it wouldn't become dinner!

Math

Students will look at the recorded findings from the WEEKLY LAB and will complete the math questions. Answers will vary

Writing in Science

Students will look at their WEEKLY LAB conclusions, From those, they will predict how a deer in the woods would react to an unfamiliar sound. They will write a paragraph using descriptive words.

Puzzle

Answer: Elephants, whales, hippos, giraffes, and alligators make infrasound. (They need to communicate over long distances.)

Level D

DID YOU KNOW??

The longer a dog's nose, the more scent receptors it has, and the better it can smell. Sniffing helps the scent get to the receptors!

Main Concept: Students are introduced to animal communication and the use of signaling to announce danger, attract mates, and call families together. They will understand that species use their methods of communication to survive.

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Vocabulary

Answers:

1. Animals smell pheromones through receptors in their noses or antennae.

2. Animals use their bodies to create visual signals.

3. A low-frequency sound that humans can not hear is an infrasound.

4. Animals with voices boxes make vocal sounds.

BONUS: Tactile refers to the sense of touch.

Weekly Lab

Students are asked to remember to use chemical, visual, tactile and auditory signals. For example, they can pretend to paw the earth or rub their heads against each other to leave chemical and tactile signals like a cat does. And, they can move slowly to simulate stalking and can meow and hiss to show excitement. AS mice, the students can wiggle their noses to simulate smelling the cat, and can stand up and squeal to simulate visual and auditory signals.

Discuss with the students how they felt while communicating. Did they get frustrated? Did they feel pressure as time elapsed?

Math

In the WEEKLY LAB, students will record and list the signals they used to communicate. They will complete the chart using their lab data and will answer the math questions. Answers will vary.

Writing in Science

Students are asked to consider the uses of communication in the natural world,

Challenge

Discuss how humans often use animal sounds and gestures to describe human activity.

Meet the Scientist

Students meet Dr. Marc Hauser, who decided to pursue a career as a biologist specializing in animal behavior after he read an article in high school that discussed the similarities between birdsong and human speech.

Level E

DID YOU KNOW??

Predators approach prey downwind so their natural smell won't float in the air and give them away.

Main Concept: Students learn that animals communicate with their senses to signal danger, attract mates, and call families together. They will understand that communication is necessary to survival.

Vocabulary

Answers:

1. Chemical messages sent and received by animals are called pheromones.

2. Tactile refers to the sense of touch.

3. A low-frequency sound that humans can not hear is an infrasound.

4. Animals with voice boxes make vocal sounds.

BONUS: Species that learn complicated songs have complex brains.

Math

Students will look at their notebook from the WEEKLY LAB. They will complete the chart with their data and will then finish the addition sentence.

Weekly Lab

Set up the activity before class. Soak 2 cotton balls in each scent. At the front of the room, write each scent on a card and lay its cotton ball on it. At the back of the room cards should be face down.

Animals depend on their senses for survival. Humans depend primarily on vision. Discuss the research question. What do students observe? Does rapid sniffing affect the sense of smell? Discuss how dogs are suited to smell. Why do they rely on smell more than humans?

Writing in Science

Students will look at the notes in their notebooks from the WEEKLY LAB and will finish writing up the lab.

Challenge

To warm up, ask the students to read or sing the following rap song:

The white tailed deer raises up her flag. She salutes to her baby and then to her stag. There's danger in the woods, as far as she can see And she intends to defend her family!

Discuss the use of rap as a method of communication with students and have them practice words and rhyme out loud. Encourage them to perform their own songs out loud.

Meet the Scientist (See Level D.)

Photo credits: Teaching Notes, page 1, A) elephants touching, and page 2 B) lea-cutter ant on leaf; both courtesy of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park: and page 3. C) male frigate bud photo [C] 2007 Maraca S. Baker used by permission all rights reserved.

DID YOU KNOW??

The most complicated form of animal communication belongs to the human. It is speech!

Weekly Resources

Helpful Sources for Planning Your Science Weekly Classroom Activities

Recommended Resources

Books for Kids

* Chinery, Michael, How Animals Communicate. Southwater Publications, London, 2002

* Pfeffer, Wendy, Dolphin Talk. HarperCollins Publishers, New York. 2003

* Tatham, Betty, HOW Animals Communicate. Watts Library, a division of Scholastic. Inc, New York, 2004

Books for Adults

* Hauseh Dr. Marc. Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think. Henry Holt and Company. New York, 2000

* Kenneally, Dr. Christine, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. Penguin Group, New York, 2007

Internet Sources

* The Smithsonian National Zoological Park Think Tank: http://nationalzoo.si.ed u/Animals/ ThinkTank/Exhibit/default.cfm

Listen to animal sound recordings!

* Elephant rumblings from The Elephant Listening Project: www.birds.cornell.edu/brp/elephant/ ELPgreetings.html

* Bird calls and songs from Macaulay Library: www.birds.corneli.edu/MacaulayLibrary/search/ freesounds.html

* Humpback whale songs from the Intersea Foundation: www.interseaorg/sndarch.html

DID YOU KNOW??

Fish can smell chemical signals under water.
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Publication:Science Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 4, 2008
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