Skip to content
Surprising Science

It’s Not Just Us Humans Going, ‘Om Nom Nom’ At Dinner Time. Other Primates Do, Too.

You know how, when you cook one of your favorite meals, humans express their satisfaction with “Mmmm” and, “Lovely!” and other vocalizations? Turns out, gorillas do something like that, too.

Scientists have previously found that other primate species express vocalizations when eating — bonobos and chimpanzees —but now they’ve recorded the sounds of gorillas doing the same. In the other species, those sounds changed based on what was being eaten, how much, and who could hear them. Also, in bonobos and chimpanzees, everybody joins in on the mealtime songs, but gorillas have a different social structure and therefore, a different set of needs around meals and such. 

They studied two species of lowland gorillas in the Congo, and recorded noises when they eating certain types of food. Usually, it’s only the dominant silverback who vocalizes, but occasionally, another joins in. It may signal both contentment and dominance at the same time, as well as a sign to others that “It’s dinner time … so chill out, y’all!”

This could lead to a new understanding of some of the origins of human language. 

Listen to the low, deep-throated sound:

Somewhat melodic sound. Note how it drops in pitch at around 0:05.

Sound embeds from New Scientist

Thumbnail image Creative Commons Licensed via Flickr.


Up Next