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How animals use names

They understand names and use them, here’s how

“two seagulls in the beach” by Phil Botha on Unsplash

Animals understand names.

A name, seen by an animal, is just a concrete sound that is always related to oneself, calling their attention because something (good or bad) is going to happen.

In fact, it’s not only they relate with the sound, but it has been shown that some animals actually use “names” in their language.

Seagulls always use a unique squawk every time they refer to a certain companion, with the answer of the supposed companion afterwards. To give an example, it could be something like:

One seagull calls others because it has found a lot of food and sings excitedly:
Food! Food (meal call squawks)! GRAWW and GROO, come here!
You inmediatelly see two seagulls approaching the first and joining the banquet. Then, you discover that they are familiars and that they always refer to them by GRAWW and GROO respectively and they respond in turn almost always.

In short, we are not the only using names.

They are used more often than we imagine. It’s a mystery, but I’m sure it’s done differently within the animal world of each species (also called umwelt).

In dogs, which are very olfactory could identify each other like this: an odor is a name. It would be interesting to investigate if each other is called by smell or otherwise.

“selective focus photography of brown dog on top of cliff” by Jeff Nissen on Unsplash