Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Without words

Animals cannot speak and have developed non-verbal ways of expressing themselves. Some of these signals we can use ourselves: we cannot wag our tails to indicate pleasure, and it is not considered proper to express contempt in the way that dogs do (there is a Winston Churchill anecdote about that), but we can if we want threaten an attacker with a snarl, or disarm him by licking his nose and purring. There are others we might usefully adopt:

The orang-utans of Suaq say goodnight to their families by blowing a loud raspberry noise, often amplified by cupping hands.

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