Decoding Whale Language

Scientists have found a breakthrough in understanding how whales communicate and they believe that whales use vocalizations that are similar to human speech. Gašper Beguš, along with a team of researchers, have been studying sperm whale vocalizations for some time, and now, they have identified how whales use clicks and codas to talk to each other.

These clicks can be thought of as analogous to human vowels and diphthongs, and chaining these clicks together form codas, which could be thought of as words. In particular, they observed a high frequency of a pair of coda vowels, the a-vowel and the i-vowel.

In cracking the code for whale language, the researchers took hints from a deep learning AI model, programmed to imitate these sperm whale codas. From an analysis of a dataset containing 3,948 sperm whale codas, the researchers further found that, apart from the two vowels, the whales also varied their use of formants, or the frequencies at which they speak.

It is possible that with the different factors involved in how whales communicate, they might have a more developed and complex means of conveying information, similar to how tonal languages can express different meanings based on tones and pronunciation. -via The Daily Grail

(Image credit: Vivek Kumar/Unsplash)


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