Want to Know Humpback Whale's Hidden Talent?

Khryss | Published 2017-08-06 00:25

Call them ocean's music geniuses.

Humpback whales are undeniably enormous creatures. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), they can grow up to 60 feet long or more than the size of a normal school bus! Male whales are also known for their haunting and melodic songs.

But did you know that they also remix them?

“Learning new songs is a form of what's known as 'social learning', which is where individual animals learn behaviours from each other rather than having them passed on from one generation to another genetically," study's co-author Associate Professor Michael Noad of the UQ School of Veterinary Science’sCetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory (CEAL).

Researchers specifically studied whale songs that were apparently transiting from one type to another. The studied whale singers vary widely from eastern Australian population to South Pacific's. With this, they found that such amazing sea creatures can actually sing different segments of songs when they have similar underlying structural pattern!

“Ellen found a couple of interesting things. When we found these rare 'hybrid' songs, the themes of the songs, either old or new, were intact, showing that the whales probably learn songs theme-by-theme like the verse of a human song. The other interesting thing was when they switched mid-song from old to new or new to old, it was during a theme most similar to another theme in either old or new songs." In short, they transit from old to new by learning the segments of the new song's verses, hence, the 'remix'.

“This provides some evidence for how animals rapidly learn large, complex displays and may have relevance for understanding how human language, the most outstanding example of social learning, evolved.”

Guess we're not so different after all. Just don't get too down when you meet a whale that's more talented than you. (Just saying.)


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