Can animals of different species understand each other?


Is the relationship between animals of different species ‘understand’ and communicate with one another or is it like us where we can only can gauge off of behaviour, body language etc.?

In: Biology

Think about how well you can understand what a cat is communicating to you. That’s a lot more understanding than most species have for most other species, and it’s still not much. Some animals do communicate across species, but only ones that have specifically evolved to do that and formed pseudo-symbiotic social relationships (for example, there are cases where you have two herbivore species who know the other species’ warning calls mean predators are about). Even then though, whether or not they really *understand* the other species is debatable. They evolved to have a “run away” response when they hear the warning call, but that doesn’t mean they understand that the warning call is a warning call.

Many animals use the call of another species as a warning of approaching predators. Nature is interconnected in many amazing ways.

Animals don’t have language the way that humans do. Their calls can carry meaning. Sometimes surprisingly specific meaning, but they’re not really “talking” to each other (with a few possible exceptions, though even there with demonstrably less complexity than human language).

For most animals, vocalizations are going to communicate things on a similar level to body language. Growls, yelps, hisses, etc. And animals can, to some extent, interpret those. A lot of them, especially warnings, are specifically meant to be understandable as, e.g., threats even across species.

But for the most part, animals aren’t communicating super complex ideas to even other members of their own species, and in the cases where they do, other animals are unlikely to be very good at deciphering the specifics with the possible exception of another species that co-evolved with to be good at understanding (in the way that dogs are remarkably good at picking up human language, for example).

Depends on the animal. Cats and dogs for instance have some very contradictory language and is often the reason they dont get along (not always but usually)

For example: A dog raises his paw as a sign of friendliness, while a cat will raise a paw as a sign of warning. So when a dog is trying to be friendly to the cat the cat can see the friendly paw gesture as a threatening one.

Humans take too much pride in their ‘language’, so much that they stopped communicating with other species.

Think about it. Animals don’t need a language to communicate. Bugs with poison have bright colors, ‘telling’ their predators to not eat them. There’s a type of moth that when detecting a bat’s high frequency sounds, send back a certain frequency saying, ‘I have poison. Don’t eat me’. That’s communication.

There’s also common actions between species. Cuddling and licking is a common sign of nearly all mammals saying ‘I am comfortable around you’.

Relaxed eyes and lying own comfortably means ‘I am full and comfortable so I will not eat you’.

Like this, animals communicate. Humans, full of pride and stupid philosophies just ignored everything and did their own things.


Edit: communication between the same species can be as complex as a human’s language. Bat frequencies, octopi colour changing and bee dances carry al ot of meaning

Depends on how far ‘understanding’ goes. Mammals, like horses for example, use body language. I can understand when a horse is happy, content, angry, etc.

A horse can understand when I am nervous, content or angry. I can even communicate a bit, when I want him to go away or come closer.

One of the easiest signales most animales have is: get away from me! Most animals will get that (not all).

But some signals are contradictinng, for example between dogs and cats. So they don’t understand eachother as well.

Now, most animals don’t have a language for complex ideas. Chims have their own sign language, dolphines, whales, and some birds also seam to have more complex language. Other animals won’t understand that. When I talk about something, a dog won’t understand me. Buf if I lean forward and talk very enthousiastic, a dog will understand I want to play.

Tldr: other animals can (sometimes) understand basic body language, but not the more complex verbal and non-verbal language.