Featured Image Credit: MARINELAND
By Sarah Sharkey
Whales have an amazing ability to communicate to each other through vast expanses of ocean. They utilize a complex language of clicks, singing and more to convey their messages through the waves. All of these abilities are amazing, but scientists have just discovered a completely new capability in whale communication – human speech.
Previously scientists had thought that whales were incapable of producing human speech. However, in a recent experiment, scientists recorded a killer whale mimicking human speech.
Although they are not the first mammals to do this, they are now on the short list of special animals that are capable of imitating human speech. Until now this list included dolphins, seals, elephants, birds and primates.
Wikie the killer whale was recorded saying the words ‘hello,’ ‘bye bye,’ saying the name ‘Amy’ (her trainer’s name) and counting up to three. Very impressive for a whale that supposedly cannot talk. Unlike humans who use the larynx to speak, killer whales use their nasal passages to produce sounds through bursts of air.
Wikie is a 14-year-old killer whale that lives in Antibes, France. She is the first orca in the world to have been recorded mimicking human speech. Researchers will continue to work with her to see how well the ability to imitate human speech will continue into to more difficult words.
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