This week, Stephen asked this question: “Does communication occur between people and animals?” A lot of the class said yes to this. He also asked this question “Is there communication between animals and other animals?” Once again all the class agreed that animals communicate (not necessarily verbally) between each other and between different species. I agree with both of the class’s answers so I thought I would look for some examples of communication between two different animals. I remembered the symbiotic relation between egrets and cattle. “Symbiosis refers to organisms that
live in close approximation, in a lot of cases one cannot live without the other” (Leigh 2010). The type of relationship egrets and the cattle share is described as mutualism. This is when both the cow and the egret benefit from the relationship.

The way both the egret and the cow befit, is that the egret picks ticks and fleas off the cow. They also follow or stand in front of the cow and eat the bugs the cattle stir up by their movement. In this relationship the egret gets and free and easy meal without being shooed away by the cow’s tail, and the cow gets the parasitic fleas and ticks removed from its body.

My point is, although the bird and the cow don’t verbally discuss their relationship, the physical communication of the cow not shooing the bird away makes symbiosis relevant and answers the question. Therefore, yes different species of animal do communicate with each other (Leigh 2010).

Another Question Stephen asked in the lecture was “do bacteria communicate?” a lot of the class, including me, did not think they did. But, through further research it turns out they do! Apparently, “Cell–cell communication in bacteria is accomplished through the exchange of chemical signal molecules called autoinducers. This process is called quorum sensing and allows bacteria to monitor their environment for the presence of other bacteria” (Taga & Bassler 2003). So there you go. Although animals and bacteria don’t have tea parties and verbally speak to each other via language, they still do communicate.


Bassler, B. & Taga, M. 2003, Chemical communication among bacteria, viewed 14 August 2012.



This information comes from Michiko E. Taga and Bonnie L. Bassler. Their Affiliations is with the Department of Molecular Biology, PrincetonUniversity and The National Academy of Sciences. The article consists of information about how bacteria communicate between each other.

Leigh, E 2010, ‘The evolution of mutualism’, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol. 23, no.12, pp. 2507–2528, viewed 3 August 2012, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02114.x.

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This article contains information about symbiotic relationships between animals and mutualism between animals.