As humans, we know first-hand how important communication is and that includes facial expressions, body language and tone of voice; they all make a difference in the message that is being conveyed. In the animal kingdom, just about every species has their unique and even weird way of relaying crucial information, be it for attracting mates, marking their territories or to warn the others of nearby predators. This list highlights some of the weirdest communication methods found in mother nature.
1. Tree-Cuddling, Urine-Spraying Bears
Bears are solitary creatures by nature and they go to great lengths to make this known. A bear rubbing its back against a tree isn’t trying to relieve itself of a hard-to-reach itch, but instead is marking its territory to assert dominance. By the time the bear’s done, the tree will be covered in fur, scratch marks, urine and secretions from its rear and paw glands. So, a subordinate bear lurking around one of those trees will immediately recognize the distinctive scent of the dominant bear and steer clear of that area.
2. Spit-Swapping Ants Leave Pheromone Trails
Ants are always on the move. These busy insects are constantly foraging for food and using the pheromones secreted by their glands, they are able to create a food trail to alert other colony members of both rewarding and unrewarding paths. However, when it comes to mating, ants have a peculiar way of recognizing nest mates. They exchange saliva by a process called trophallaxis, which oddly resembles mouth-to-mouth kissing. This saliva contains lots of genetic material including pheromones, hormones and food.
3. Sneeze for Democracy
Just like their domestic counterparts, African wild dogs are social animals who are led by the dominant males and females of the pack. But when it comes to making decisions, such as hunting, then the entire pack has a say. They even have their very own voting system which works by sneezing at one another to indicate their preference. If a lower-ranked dog initiates the social rally, then at least ten sneezes are needed for approval, but a dominant male or female needs as little as three sneezes.
4. The Honeybee Waggle Dance
Similar to ants, honeybees live in colonies and they must frequently work together to ensure their survival. When a lone honeybee locates a source of food, it must communicate its finding to the rest of the hive. It does this by climbing atop another bee then vibrating rapidly. Once it has the attention of the other members, the main bee starts wagging its body in a straight line to indicate both the direction and distance of the flower patch. A short dance lets the bees know the food is nearby and if the dancer is facing upward, then they’ll know to fly with respect to the sun.
5. Crested Pigeons Use Wing Whistling
Crested pigeons, native to mainland Australia, have a distinct, built-in warning system that allows them to broadcast information regarding predators. When startled, the pigeon will launch into the sky and emit a series of high-frequency vibrations that are generated by each downstroke of its wings, particularly from its eighth primary feather. Nearby pigeons pick up on this and immediately interpret the whistles as a warning signal. This differs greatly from the regular whistle that crested pigeons always emit whenever they take off.
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