Confuse A Meerkat

Did you know that meerkats have complex alarm calls?

Related to mongooses, meerkats (Suricata suricatta) live in colonies in southern Africa where their biggest enemies are jackals and eagles. Because they’re highly social they warn each other when danger is near. They even have special sounds to describe the source and threat level for each danger — combinations of “danger from the ground” or “danger in the air” with low, medium and high threat levels.

In this BBC Earth video, scientist Marta Manser tests the meerkats under various threat conditions. Everything goes as planned until she tests for “danger from the air!” by presenting them with a taxidermy jackal arriving by balloon.

“The results of that experiment were inconclusive.”

The meerkats looked up, confused. There is no alarm call for “flying jackal.”

(video from BBC Earth on YouTube)

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