Hear these wild gorillas composing special ‘songs’ and ‘humming’ during mealtimes

26 August 2021, 10:59

Hear these wild gorillas composing special ‘songs’ and ‘humming’ during mealtimes
Hear these wild gorillas composing special ‘songs’ and ‘humming’ during mealtimes. Picture: Alamy

By Rosie Pentreath

Turns out these magnificent creatures create special music to accompany their food, and sing a profound deep bass that gives even the most established contrabass a run for their money.

A scientist working in the Republic of Congo has made the remarkable discovery that wild gorillas make up special ‘songs’ and ‘hum’ during mealtimes.

Doing us a solid, the Internet recently resurfaced the story of German scientist Eva Luef identifying distinct food-related hums, and unique meal-summoning melodies, in these musical gorillas back in 2016.

Food calls had been recorded in chimpanzee and bonobo populations before, but this was the first time the vocal ability of gorillas inspired by food, had been unearthed.

Read more: Ancient breed of singing dog, thought extinct for 50 years, appears in wild

Persuaded by the fact gorillas’ cousins were vocal around their dins, Luef, who’s a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen in Germany, decided it was time to travel to the gorilla populations of the western lowlands of the Congo and observe their behaviour.

Luef discovered that the gorillas compose two distinct styles of ‘song’ around eating: a deep, low ‘hum’ that accompanies munching itself, and a more melodious song featuring different short pitches, communicated around the meals. Listen above.

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“They don’t sing the same song over and over,” Luef told New Scientist in 2016. “It seems like they are composing their little food songs.”

The all-singing, all-eating gorillas aren’t the first wild animals who’ve been identified as having a talent for music. These wild dogs inhabiting the New Guinea jungle ‘sing’ as well, and there was that time a red squirrel gave us a quick tune on an abandoned grand piano in the forest...

Read more: 13 pieces of classical music inspired by birdsong

Back to our gorillas – and these wonderful creatures seem to be using their unique music to notify the rest of their group that it’s dinner time, while the ‘hums’ seem to be expressing contentment with the meal itself.

Now, to that, we can very much relate.