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Humpback whale songs spread eastward like the latest pop tune
Date:4/15/2011

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Humpback whales have their own version of the hit single, according to a study reported online on April 14th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. At any given time within a population, male humpbacks all sing the same mating tune. But the pattern of the song changes over time, with the new and apparently catchy versions of the song spreading repeatedly across the ocean, almost always traveling from west to east.

"Our findings reveal cultural change on a vast scale," said Ellen Garland, a graduate student at The University of Queensland. Multiple songs moved like "cultural ripples from one population to another, causing all males to change their song to a new version." This is the first time that such broad-scale and population-wide cultural exchange has been documented in any species other than humans, she added.

Researchers from The Univers
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Contact: Elisabeth Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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