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Universal ‘code’ connects humans and animals - study
Researchers found there might be a universal code for the perception of emotion of animals.
Researchers suggest acoustic emotions exist across all vertebrates

Humans can identify emotions in the voices of all air-breathing vertebrates, a new study has found.

Writing in the journal Proceeding of the Royal Society B, researchers show there might be a universal code for the vocal expression and perception of emotions of animals.

Previous work found that humans can identify emotions in the voices of different mammals. In this new study, researchers expanded the results to include amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

The study was conducted by researchers at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, and Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from Alberta, Canada, and Vienna, Austria.

“The findings suggest that fundamental mechanisms for the acoustic expression of emotions exist across all classes of vertebrates,” the authors conclude. “The evolutionary roots of this signal system might be shared by all vocalising vertebrates.

They continue: “This finding goes in the direction of what Charles Darwin suggested more than a century ago, namely that acoustic expressions of emotion can be traced back to our earliest land-dwelling ancestors.”

In the study, researchers employed 75 individuals whose native language was English, German or Mandarin. The participants listened to audio recordings on nine different species of land-living vertebrates in the classes mammals, amphibians and reptiles. The latter group included birds and other reptiles.

Participants were able to differentiate between high and low levels of arousal in the acoustic signals of all animal classes. To do this, they mainly relied on frequency-related parameters in the signals. 

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Cats Protection launches Christmas animation

News Story 1
 Leading feline charity Cats Protection has launched a heartwarming Christmas animation to raise awareness of the important work it does. The animation is based on a true story of a kitten that went missing earlier this year. Freezing cold and hungry, the kitten was dumped in a box on a roadside and somehow became separated from her brother and sisters.


Thankfully there is a happy end to this tail, and Libby - now named Misty - was eventually reunited with her littermates. Misty’s owner, Amy Smith, said: “Misty has settled amazingly well into our home, she has found a best friend in my daughter Lily and likes to follow her around the house. She also loves to chase bugs in the garden. We feel very lucky to have her.” 

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WSAVA launches certificate programme focusing on companion animals in One Health

The first certificate programme focusing specifically on the role of companion animals in One Health has been launched by the One Health Committee (OHC) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

The online programme, which is free of charge for WSAVA members, has been developed in recognition of the growing impact of companion animals in human society. Pet ownership is becoming more popular globally, and this has increased the implications for One Health, regarding the human-companion animal bond. The WSAVA OHC hopes that this course will bridge the knowledge gap between veterinary surgeons and human physicians. New modules are being added weekly, with a total of 20 modules expected to be available by early 2020.