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BlackTailedPrairieDog_JumpyUp_Sterling-Krank_Lindsey_BoulderCO_28April2022_Reel4105.mp3

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:00:00] They are a prey species. And one of the adaptations that animals make to being a prey species and enhancing their survival in the littlest way, or any way that they can, is their communication system.

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:00:14] So they have what is known as one of the most sophisticated communication systems, or language even, of a mammal that has ever been studied. And the reason that is, they actually decided to coin it a "language", from a communication system, is that they determined that prairie dogs were able to create new words.

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:00:37] And there's a wonderful researcher, Con Slobodchikoff. And he would definitely explain this better than me, but he determined that prairie dogs have such a sophisticated system that they could say what color shirt you're wearing - red, green, blue, brown, black, white, gray.

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:00:59] They can say if you are a friend or a foe. They measure the amount of danger that you associate with your presence on the colony. So, for example, if I were to walk through the colony in my green shirt with a gun, they would say, "Okay, you know, here comes the lady with the green shirt and a gun. And she's coming this fast and you need to be watching her at this spot over here."

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:01:25] And no matter if I never went back through there with a gun again, they would always say, "She's dangerous." They would always remember that I walked through there with a gun one time, and I would always be associated with that level of danger.

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:01:39] And my word would be, or my phrase would be, that I'm "dangerous".

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:01:45] And the way that they convey so much information in like, "REE-ROOO". One little chirp, you know, is like a whole sentence to them. And they coin these words through different tone, pitch and frequencies in their chirps.

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:01:58] So one of my favorite interactions that they do is called the "jumpy-up". And they go, "EEE-YOOO", and they, they get down on the ground and they jump in the air and go, "EEE-YOOO".

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:02:08] And it means ... we don't know what it means. It means, "All clear". Or it means, "I'm over here", or "I'm over there", or "I'm over here". And, you know, or maybe it's like a roll call - "David, Lindsey, Sarah, Jan". You know, "We're all here." "I'm here, I'm here. I'm still here." "Who got eaten?" "Who's still up?" You know?

Lindsey Sterling-Krank [00:02:25] So that's always one of my favorite things to hear on the colony. It sounds like a wave going through the colony.