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July 17, 2014 By Andy Ross

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Talking to animals

We are all storytellers. As artists and musicians we communicate through our disciplines, and as crafters we tell stories about the materials we use and in so doing give away a little of ourselves in the process. Now, it seems, animals are just like us.

On the BBC iPlayer a programme called Talk to the Animals reveals a world of communication, both vocal and visual, including some surprises. Did you know that hippos talk to each other above and below water at the same time? Or that chimpanzees communicate complex messages through body language? The biggest surprise is the use of sound as a medium for communication by tiny spiders. These mini-beasts scrape their abdomens and bounce their bodies against the ground to create a courtship song, not something that we were able to hear until sensitive enough microphones came along. As a singer I found it a fascinating insight into animal behaviour and into our own very close relationship with the natural world. Just like Lucy Cooke, the presenter, we can all now  dream of talking to the animals.