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Animals Scream Because They Get That Life Is At Times an Unyielding Nightmare

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Every animal screams because screaming is fun; every animal is capable of recognizing screams because suffering is universal and we will all eventually die alone.


An illuminating study via the Washington Post notes that the one thing all vertebrate animals have in common is the ability to “sense excitement in the sounds of species as different as frogs and pandas.” To test, scientists asked a group of college-age people to listen to sounds from nine different species, which were recordings of animals vocalizing and reflecting high or low levels of excitement.

The noises were not happy, mirthful squeals of joy, but the sounds of despair, anger, and deep pain.

Instead, these were desperate or negative screams: the sounds of frogs in competition for mates, monkeys reacting to danger or ravens confronted by a dominant bird. Representing our species were actors speaking in Tamil, asked to read lines as if increasingly upset. The subjects had to identify which vocalization, out of paired sounds from the same species, represented higher arousal.


Naturally, human beings were most capable of recognizing the sound of other human beings in distress, but they were also quite capable of recognizing the stressed-out shrieks of other animals like the giant panda, the hourglass tree frog, the African elephant, and a pig. I’m not sure where koalas ranked on the list, but I’d say that if I heard the below display during a study, I would naturally assume that the animal making the noise was going through some shit.

Basically every “unhappy land-dwelling four-legged animal” screams and the sound of their screaming is similar enough across species to be recognized as a scream. We’re all the same —shrieking into the void and waiting for sweet release.

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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Too Grey to Function

Being a panda in a zoo has its benefits. Life is pretty much eat, sleep, scratch your ass on a rock, repeat. Occasionally have some panda sex. Could be a lot worse.