Have you ever wondered how some animals can sound as though they’re speaking a human language? Many animals, such as parrots, songbirds, beluga whales and dolphins have the ability to mimic humans. They may sound like they are talking, while in fact, they are just great copycats!
These animals have a special circuit in the frontal lobes of their brains, making them vocal learners. Only a handful of animals have these circuits, which gives them the ability to mimic human speech and other sounds they hear around them. These circuits play a role in helping these animals learn new noises from their surroundings and recreate them using the muscles in their vocal tracts.
Some animals in captivity (who are vocal learners), such as chimpanzees, also learn to communicate with humans by copying noises and actions. Studies have shown that these actions come out of loneliness and a need to socialize. The pick up social cues from humans around them and copy them.
With some vocal learners, especially parrots, you may feel as though they understand what they are saying. However, all these noises are mimicry, which they recreate with their vocal chord muscles.