Zoosemiotics is the semiotic study of the use of signs among animals, more precisely the study of semiosis among animals, i.e. the study of how something comes to function as a sign to some animal.[1] It is the study of animal forms of knowing.[2]

Considered part of biosemiotics, zoosemiotics is related to the fields of ethology and animal communication.[3] It was developed by semiotician Thomas Sebeok based on the theories of German-Estonian biologist Jakob von Uexküll.[4][5] The field is defined by having as its subject matter all of those semiotic processes that are shared by both animals and humans.[6] The field also differs from the field of animal communication in that it also interprets signs that are not communicative in the traditional sense, such as camouflage, mimicry, courtship behavior etc. The field also studies cross-species communication, such as for example communication between humans and animals.[7]

See also


  1. Maran, Timo; Martinelli, Dario; Turovski, Aleksei (eds.), 2011. Readings in Zoosemiotics. (Semiotics, Communication and Cognition 8.). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
  2. Kull, Kalevi 2014. Zoosemiotics is the study of animal forms of knowing. Semiotica 198: 47–60.
  3. Witzany, Guenther. 2014. Biocommunication of Animals. Dortrecht, Springer.
  4. "Zoosemiotics". Thomas A. Sebeok. American Speech , Vol. 43, No. 2 (May, 1968), pp. 142-144
  5. Zoosemiotics: Juncture of Semiotics and the Biological Study of Behavior. Science 29 January 1965: Vol. 147 no. 3657 pp. 492-493
  6. Baer, Eugen. 1987. Thomas A. Sebeok's Doctrine of Signs, in Krampen, et al. (eds.) "Classics of Semiotics" Plenum Press. p. 187
  7. Martinelli, Dario. "Zoosemiotics" in Semiotics Encyclopedia Online. E.J. Pratt Library - Victoria University.

Further reading

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