10 May 2006

Hey Flipper

Latest news from the world of science - dolphins appear to have signature whistles, giving them specific identities within the group. Scientists from St Andrews Univeristy, Scotland, appear to have been mukcing around with recordings, identifying repeated patterns and playing them to dolphins caught in nets. Dr Janik, leading the research team, says:

”As infants, bottlenose dolphins develop their own signature whistles to use throughout their lifetimes. Group members repeat these whistles back during vocal interactions, and we believe that the whistles form a system similar to that of human names.”

The researchers played synthetic whistles to dolphins through an underwater speaker. In 9 out of 14 cases, the dolphin would turn more often toward the speaker if it heard a whistle resembling that of a close relative, demonstrating that the synthetic signature whistle contains information that is used by the listeners to identify the caller.

Cool, huh? And in other news I read that Big Ted from PlaySchool recently texted some friends (on a cardboard mobile phone) to invite them over for a tea party. I think they still sang I'm a little teapot in analogue rather than downloading an mp3.

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