HomeAnimalsGorilla Robot Pretends To Be One Of The Pack And Here Is What Happened
Gorilla Robot Pretends To Be One Of The Pack And Here Is What Happened
May 7, 2020
The filmmakers at John Downer Productions came up with a genius way to record animals in their natural habitat. They employed lifelike robots made to resemble the creatures and had these “ultra-realistic animatronic” spies go undercover and capture unique animal behavior from up close. One of these secret agents, a gorilla, became a true star of the show. As it was embedded in the wild, it did such a wonderful job of infiltrating the giant apes, it came back with some never-seen-before footage of these guys singing. And farting.
“Firstly, we need to work out what spy animals would be best to film the animal. So, for example, it would not be a good idea to make a spy Silverback Mountain gorilla, as this could be seen as too much of a threat to the real mountain gorillas. Therefore, we went with a baby gorilla,” filmmaker Matt Gordon explained.
“Not only were we, the producers, all biologists and zoologists, but we also enlisted the help and knowledge of scientists and experts when building the spy creatures,” Gordon said. “We would ask these experts what features we should concentrate on. Therefore, for the gorillas, the eyes were extremely important.”
“Mountain gorillas learn a lot from each other by staring into each others’ eyes. Therefore, we designed the spy gorilla to be able to close and move his eyes so that when necessary, he could avert his gaze to show respect to the real gorillas.”
Even though it was the first time humans recorded apes singing, we’ve already heard about it. A 2016 study published in PLOS ONE detailed this “food-calling”, describing the vocal sounds the great apes were unleashing when eating, with pitches and durations depending on the quantity and quality of the food and the audience.
“Food-associated calling may function to notify the rest of the group of an individual’s current feeding activity, similar to what has been reported for chimpanzees,” the researchers wrote. “Informing other group members of one’s current activity could be important for group coordination and cohesion. Such a scenario could also explain the higher frequency of adult male calls: Silverbacks may have to engage more frequently in auditory informing as they are generally the ones initiating changes in group activity.”
The authors of the study stated that this discovery provides an interesting viewpoint on the evolution of language and vocal communication in general. The filmmakers gave the phenomenon a poetic name — the chorus of appreciation.
As the video shows, gorillas can climb trees, but are typically seen on the ground in communities of up to 30 individuals. They organize themselves according to social structures; troops are led by one dominant, older adult male, often called a silverback due to the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur. Troops also include a few other young males, some females, and their offspring.
It’s the leader who organizes troop activities like eating, nesting in leaves, and moving about. Those who have an issue with it and decide to challenge the alpha male are put in place by impressive shows of physical power. He can stand upright, throw things, make aggressive charges, and pound his huge chest while barking out powerful hoots or unleashing a frightening roar. Despite these acts and the animals’ obvious physical power, however, gorillas are generally calm and nonaggressive unless they are disturbed.