Friday, May 13, 2011

Smarter critters

I've written about smart critters before. They're out there. Animals that use tools, animals that work cooperatively, animals that have their own types of language.

Crows are some of those animals: tools and languages and dialects - cool stuff.

The new one I just read about was whales. Yeah, they are some smart mammals, and you have all heard whale song before. But did you know that whales from different pods have dialects.

Like those southern cousins of yours..

When they dive together, sperm whales make patterns of clicks to each other known as "codas." Recent findings suggest that not only do different codas mean different things, but that whales can also tell which member of their community is speaking based on the sound properties of the codas. Just as we can tell our friends apart by the sounds of their voices and the way they pronounce their words, different sperm whales make the same pattern of clicks, but with different accents.

Caribbean and Pacific whales have different repertoires of codas, like a regional dialect, but the "Five Regular" call -- a pattern of five evenly spaced clicks -- is thought to have the universal function of individual identity because it is used by sperm whales worldwide.

You can read more here.

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