“The sound you can hold in your hands”: how scientists decode the language of dolphins

“The sound you can hold in your hands”: how scientists decode the language of dolphins

MOSCOW, 21 Feb — RIA Novosti, Alfia Enikeeva. Hunting shoals of fish, zasylaya scouts ahead in search of prey and knocking in “youth gangs” terrifying to relatives, dolphins coordinate actions and agree with each other. Scientists suggest that they are communicating with the pulse-tone signals whose structure is reminiscent of word formation in human language.

Is it possible to call the system of such signals language and when it will be decrypted in the material RIA Novosti.

Whistling “autograph” bottlenose dolphins

In the 1970s, the American neuroscientist John Lilly, who devoted his life to studying dolphins, called to give these animals the right to be represented in the United Nations as the “whale people.” His interests could advocate for professionals working with dolphins, until the marine mammals and humanity will not learn to better understand each other.

Lilly, of course, was the great original by making certain sensational statements, he often could not back up their scientific evidence. But many of his guesses about the intellectual, communicative and emotional abilities of dolphins later confirmed by other researchers. In addition, he first suggested that dolphins have their own language — the “language of whistles”.

In the mid-twentieth century found that dolphins do communicate with each other using sound signals — whistles. But when these whistles began to understand, was that most of them — individually-identification, a kind of sound “autographs” of dolphins. At least, the bottlenose dolphins.Alexander Agafonova the laboratory of marine mammals of the Institute of Oceanology P. p. Shirshov of RAS

Swimming, Dolphin periodically visittibet its call sign to the rest of the relatives knew where he was. Those, in turn, can respond to their own “autographs”. So marine animals to determine the location of members of the community, and hear each other at a distance of several kilometers.

To count dolphins in votes

Individual sound “autograph” generated by Dolphin in the first months of life and then does not change. Therefore, the Russian scientists decided to use these callsigns to account for populations of black sea bottlenose dolphins — simply put, to count their votes.

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“Sound — concept ephemeral. Sounded — and no more. How to work with it? It is most convenient to visualize it as a graph: on one axis a time, that is, the length, and the other is the frequency (height) of the sound. This is called a spectrogram (or sonogram) of the signal. “Autograph” is displayed as a characteristic curve for each individual Dolphin. With these images and work, it is so sound you can hold in your hands,” explains Alexander Agafonov.

Researchers have identified about a thousand Dolphin calls — the number of bottlenose dolphins is now home to the Crimean coast. According to Agafonov, if extrapolated, it turns out that in the Black sea not more than five thousand individuals — less than half thirty years ago.