Creature Choir: Animals That Talk and Sing
We don’t usually think of wild animals when we think of music - my dog can’t carry a tune - but scientists have recently begun to discover that some animals actually make song-like sounds in response to various triggers or simply to communicate. The following is a list of animals that have been recorded making sounds that strongly resemble what we think of like singing, calling, talking, and language overall.
These cute sea creatures are known to communicate with one another below sea-level in the form of squeaking noises of different lengths and pitches. Dolphins generally have poor eyesight, and spend their time in the dark depths of the ocean, creating a need for an aural communication system. They tend to develop patterns to their communication which can actually be studied as a sort of “language.” Scientists even recently discovered that dolphins will sing to their unborn babies in the womb, whistling their distinct “name” sounds.
While their “songs” are so ultrasonic, the human ear can’t register them, male mice are known to sing to female mice in the form of long trills at different tones as a part of mating patterns. These love-song crooners have only rarely been heard by humans without the help of sonic technology, but it has been observed that the better the singer the mouse is, the more likely he is to find a girlfriend!
Perhaps the most well-known of the animal tenors, many different types of whales have been recorded making sounds that actually resemble what human beings perceive as music. Humpback whales are particularly likely to use this pattern of communication, generally to attract mates and communication locations to others. Studies suggest that they even employ a basic system of grammar in their songs. Further, it has been revealed that all Humpbacks sing the exact same, hours-long melody to attract females during the mating season. This is the first evidence of hierarchical language between creatures on earth other than humans and is currently being studied in depth.
Killer Whales, or Orcas, are also known to sing for their peers. Being extremely social creatures who travel in pods of up to 30, they are known to rely on sound to communicate with one another. Studies have shown that their ultrasonic sound systems actually have regional dialects, creating slight differences in sound based upon the pods’ geographical origin. They have been known to develop distinct call signs for each member of the pod, similar to the concept of names.
Being the highly aural creatures they are, often relying on echolocation, it comes as no surprise that bats use sounds to communicate with one another. Like many other species who use their voices to woo the opposite sex, bats are known to sing specific songs to attract mates. They change the tone of their warbling to deter other males, foregoing the more pleasing sounds for more threatening ones.