05 Dec '11, 8pm

Analysis of Whale Sounds Uncovers Evidence of Culture

Analysis of Whale Sounds Uncovers Evidence of Culture

Sperm whales are the deepest diving mammal in the world's oceans. They have the largest brain on the planet. And now, new research suggests that they use unique sets of clicks and sounds to separate themselves into distinct "clans." All sperm whales draw on a small selection of morse-code-like clicks called "codas," but the combinations of patterns differ from group to group. Researchers have found that these sounds separate sperm whales in the Pacific into five distinct groups or clans. The immediate question this rose was: Are these differences in codas determined by genetics or learned culture. To test this question, researchers collected samples of discarded skin from whales across the ocean. When these samples were analyzed, they found something surprising: Whales with different coda patterns often shared similar genetics. This means that the sound patterns are learne...

Full article: http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/analysis-of-wh...

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