Asif Ghazanfar of Princeton University, said that they were surprised by how reliably the marmoset monkeys exchanged their vocalizations in a cooperative manner, particularly since in most cases they were doing so with individuals that they were not pair-bonded with.
He said that this makes what we found much more similar to human conversations and very different from the coordinated calling of animals such as birds, frogs, or crickets, which is linked to mating or territorial defense.
In other words, both people and marmosets appear to be willing to "talk" to just about anyone, and without any rude interruptions.
The discovery makes marmosets rather unique, the researchers say, noting that chimps and other great apes "not only don't take turns when they vocalize, they don't seem to vocalize much at all, period!"
Ghazanfar and first author of the study Daniel Takahashi suspected that those features would support the self-monitored give and take that a good conversation requires.
To find out, they placed marmosets in opposite corners of a room in which they could hear but not see each other and recorded the exchanges that ensued. They found that marmosets don't call at the same time, but rather wait for about 5 seconds after one is finished calling to respond. In other words, they follow a set of unspoken rules of conversational etiquette.
The study has been published in Cell Press journal Current Biology.
--ANI (Posted on 18-10-2013)