Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The secret of the whale song

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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It was first officially recorded a little over half a century ago, These songs They have been the subject of much research, to try to decode them and understand the disturbances our modern technologies cause to these “signals” that cetaceans send to each other over great distances.

The new studypublished on February 21 in the magazine nature, focuses more specifically on the enigmatic whales, or “true whales” – not to be confused with other marine species that, like dolphins, also have a form of communication. Researchers from Denmark, the United States and Austria have identified, deep in the throats of these humpback whales and other blue whales, a mechanism that helps explain how these mammals are able to produce such diverse and varied sounds of different frequencies, underwater.

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To access the team's demonstration under the supervision of a biologist Quinn Elemansfrom the University of Southern Denmark, jointly conducted experiments on both the larynxes of three whale species and computer models.

Previous experiments have already proven the existence of an air pocket along the trachea: it allows the whale to stay underwater for a longer period without breathing. What the new study showsis that when a whale pushes air from its lungs into its throat, the air makes the tiny cartilage vibrate –It's a bit like the air vibrating our vocal cords. The air then reaches this pocket that we already knew, and from there it is “recycled” by returning it to the lungs, and the cycle begins again.

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The researchers assume It is a very ancient mechanism, which undoubtedly evolved by the time these animals moved, 40 million years ago, from land to sea, and must have developed a way to continue communicating. The defectAfter 40 million years, this system is limited to certain frequencies, which today rival the noise made by our ships and submarines.

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