Gorillas hum and sing while eating.
This news might not be new (it was reported in New Scientist in 2016 after the release of Eva Luef's academic paper), but it’s important, and more people need to know. It also formed the basis of Lauren Laverne’s People's Playlist on BBC 6 Music this week.
Research shows singing appears to be a way for gorillas to express contentment and happiness with their food. It’s also a way for the head of the family to communicate that it is time to eat.
Eva Luef, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, observed two groups of gorillas in the Republic of the Congo.
The gorillas apparently make two different types of sound: humming – a low-frequency tone that sounds like one happy and content gorilla; and singing – a few short, different pitches that sound like they’re making up a little tune.
“They don’t sing the same song over and over. It seems like they are composing their little food songs,” says Leuf.
Leuf found in the wild that it was generally the dominant silverback males that sang and hummed while eating. As the dominant male makes the decisions, Leuf suggests this is a way of telling the group that mealtimes are continuing and it’s not time to move on.
It’s basically a gorilla version of saying, “yummmmm” while eating.
Food-related calls have also been recorded in other animals, including bonobos and chimpanzees.
Do you sing for your supper? What’s your song or foodie lyric of choice?
I’m torn between The Jam’s ‘Eating Trifles’, or Talking Heads’ ‘Sandwich Filler’...