Wired News: Rodents' Talk Isn't Just 'Cheep': '"What we're finding out about prairie dogs are things that we never thought other animal species could do," he says. "Functionally (the calls are) the same thing as words."
Slobodchikoff has identified more than 20 prairie dog "words" and says he has found prairie dog calls that describe shapes and colors. "We set up some experiments where we had humans wearing different-colored shirts," he explains. "We had these people walk through prairie dog colonies, recorded the calls and found that, sure enough, there was variation that was consistent." The prairie dogs across the board had the same distinctive calls for blue shirts, green shirts, yellow shirts and so on. '