By Cailey Rizzo
February 06, 2020

A team of Italian researchers has found “compelling evidence” that penguins have similar speech patterns to humans, according to a recent study. 

The research, published in Biology Letters this month, concluded that African penguin speech is very similar to that of humans in two specific ways: the most frequently used words were the shortest and the longer a sentence (or “call”) gets, the shorter the words are within it. These two linguistic laws are known as Zipf's Law of Brevity and the Menzerath-Altmann Law.

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In the first time this pattern has been detected in an animal other than a primate, it was found that penguins use “display songs” to recognize other penguins, choose a mate and protect their territory. The penguins used in this particular study are known as the “jackass penguin” for its wheezing bray similar to that of a donkey. Researchers analyzed more than 590 of these braying calls from 28 different penguins to determine their patterns.

But researchers believe that penguins may not be the only animals that speak like humans.

“We can probably find many other species that conform to these laws because this is probably a general principle, rather than something related to human language specifically,” Livio Favaro, a co-author of the research, told The Guardian.

This study may just prove a theory that animal behaviorists call “compression,” which basically means that animals will find the most efficient ways of communicating whatever they need to say.

Speech isn’t the only human-like activity penguins participate in. They rob their favorite restaurantstake selfies in front of natural wonders and even maintain long-term romantic relationships.

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