Navigation Links
A whale with a distinctly human-like voice
Date:10/25/2012

AUDIO: This audio clip captures the unusual speech-like sounds from white whale NOC. See supplemental information for more data.

Click here for more information.

For the first time, researchers have been able to show by acoustic analysis that whalesor at least one very special white whalecan imitate the voices of humans. That's a surprise, because whales typically produce sounds in a manner that is wholly different from humans, say 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.

Those unusually familiar sounds were traced back to one white whale in particular only some time later when a diver surfaced from the whale enclosure to ask his colleagues an odd question: "Who told me to get out?"

They deduced that those utterances came from a most surprising source: a white whale by the name of NOC. That whale had lived among dolphins and other white whales and had often been in the presence of humans.

In fact, there had been other anecdotal reports of whales sounding like humans before, but in this case Ridgway's team wanted to capture some real evidence. They recorded the whale's sounds to reveal a rhythm similar to human speech and fundamental frequencies several octaves lower than typical whale sounds, much closer to that of the human voice.

"Whale voice prints were similar to human voice and unlike the whale's usual sounds," Ridgway said. "The sounds we heard were clearly an example of vocal learning by the white whale."

That's all the more remarkable because whales make sounds via their nasal tract, not in the larynx as humans do. To make those human-like sounds, NOC had to vary the pressure in his nasal tract while making other muscular adjustments and inflating the vestibular sac in his blowhole, the researchers found. In other words, it wasn't easy.

Sadly, after 30 years at the National Marine Mammal Foundation, NOC passed away five years ago. But the sound of his voice lives on.


'/>"/>

Contact: Elisabeth (Lisa) Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Genetic survey of endangered Antarctic blue whales shows surprising diversity
2. Giant squids giant eyes: The better to see hungry whales with
3. Ancient whale species sheds new light on its modern relatives
4. How to make high-end perfumes without whale barf
5. New iPad, iPhone app helps mariners avoid endangered right whales
6. Study amplifies understanding of hearing in baleen whales
7. Whale population size, dynamics determined based on ancient DNA
8. A whale of a discovery: New sensory organ found in rorqual whales
9. Scientists discover a new sensory organ in the chin of baleen whales
10. Killer whale at risk due to inadequate prey population
11. First paternity study of southern right whales finds local fathers most successful
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016  According to new research ... mainstream. More than 200 fingerprint, iris, and eye-vein ... under 70 brand names. This includes market leaders ... ZTE. Acuity projects that 600 million biometric smartphones ... global installed base. Maxine Most , ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Solutions announces today that its license plate recognition (LPR) cameras ... Lee,s Summit Police Department to improve safety for ... homicide suspect. Kansas City , ... and is home to roughly 100,000 residents. Lee,s ... plate reader system and also leverages Vigilant,s network of commercially ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... PUNE, India , February 10, 2016 ... --> According to 2016 iris ... fingerprint identification iris recognition is more widely ... are available with both fingerprint and iris ... allows the user to avoid purchasing two ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)...  BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX ... the launch of the BD CLiC™ System during the ... --> --> ... cost effective NGS library preparation with limited operator intervention. ... next generation sequencing (NGS) library prep instrument, engineered for ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... , Feb. 12, 2016  PTC Therapeutics, Inc. ... annual STRIVE (Strategies to Realize Innovation, Vision and ... (DMD). STRIVE provides funds to patient advocacy organizations ... make meaningful contributions to the rare disease community ... of future patient advocates. Mary ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... MedGenome,s Commitment Will Help ... of Complex Diseases Such as Cancer, Metabolic Disorders, ... --> --> MedGenome, the market ... leading provider of genomics research services globally, today ... GenomeAsia 100K consortium as a founding member. ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Non-profit Consortium Aims to Generate Genomic ... Research and Discovery --> --> ... plan to sequence 100,000 individuals. It is intended to initially ... 7 of North and East Asian countries. ... project will focus on creating phased reference genomes for all ...
Breaking Biology Technology: