Primate communication in the pure ultrasound. Academic Article uri icon


  • Few mammals-cetaceans, domestic cats and select bats and rodents-can send and receive vocal signals contained within the ultrasonic domain, or pure ultrasound (greater than 20 kHz). Here, we use the auditory brainstem response (ABR) method to demonstrate that a species of nocturnal primate, the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), has a high-frequency limit of auditory sensitivity of ca 91 kHz. We also recorded a vocalization with a dominant frequency of 70 kHz. Such values are among the highest recorded for any terrestrial mammal, and a relatively extreme example of ultrasonic communication. For Philippine tarsiers, ultrasonic vocalizations might represent a private channel of communication that subverts detection by predators, prey and competitors, enhances energetic efficiency, or improves detection against low-frequency background noise.

published proceedings

  • Biol Lett

altmetric score

  • 144.666

author list (cited authors)

  • Ramsier, M. A., Cunningham, A. J., Moritz, G. L., Finneran, J. J., Williams, C. V., Ong, P. S., Gursky-Doyen, S. L., & Dominy, N. J.

citation count

  • 50

complete list of authors

  • Ramsier, Marissa A||Cunningham, Andrew J||Moritz, Gillian L||Finneran, James J||Williams, Cathy V||Ong, Perry S||Gursky-Doyen, Sharon L||Dominy, Nathaniel J

publication date

  • August 2012