Written by By sciencedaily.com Tuesday, 23 October 2012 10:43
Researchers have been able to show by acoustic analysis that whales—or at least one very special white whale—can imitate the voices of humans.
For the first time, researchers have been able to show by acoustic analysis that whales—or at least one very special white whale—can imitate the voices of humans. That’s a surprise because whales typically produce sounds in a manner that is wholly different from humans, according to researchers who report their findings in the October 23 issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.
“Our observations suggest that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics in order to make the speech-like sounds,” said Sam Ridgway of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. “Such obvious effort suggests motivation for contact.”
It all started in 1984 when Ridgway and others began to notice some unusual sounds in the vicinity of the whale and dolphin enclosure. As they describe it, it sounded as though two people were conversing in the distance, just out of range of their understanding.