Do All Animals Sound the Same?
In a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, researchers adjusted animals' sounds for body size and metabolic rate, and found a surprising similarity of normalized calls throughout the animal kingdom. Karen Hopkin reports
January 14, 2010
What do a whale and a frog have in common? According to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, pound for pound, they sound the same. Sounds fishy? I mean, if you’ve ever heard the eerie song of the humpback whale [whale song], you know that it don’t sound like no spring peeper [frog sound].
But scientists at the University of Florida Health Science Center have compared the calls made by 500 different animals, from crickets [sound] to crocodiles [sound], and ostriches [sound] to chimps [sound]. And they find that the basic features of every animal’s cry, such as frequency and duration, depend on the creature’s metabolism. Which, in turn, depends on the animal’s size and body temperature.
And when the calls are adjusted to account for differences in body size and temperature, a whale sounds a lot like a frog [Adjusted whale song]. And vice versa for a whale-sized frog [adjusted peeper calls].
They think there’s a metabolic link, because energy use affects the nerves and muscles that animals use to sound off. ‘Course we still don’t know what they’re saying. And I’m not getting close enough to ask. —Karen Hopkin [The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]