Killer whale 'repeats human speech' - examine (AUDIO, POLL)

Killer whale ‘repeats human speech’- study

Killer whale ‘repeats human speech’- study

Scientists have found a killer whale in France capable of imitating the sounds of other orcas as well as human speech, including the words "hello", "Amy", and "bye bye".

Orcas are also known as killer whales, although they are actually dolphins.

Animals that live with people or who are habituated to them through captivity may copy elements of human speech in order to strengthen social bonds, Angela Stoeger-Horwath, a bioacoustician at the University of Vienna and co-author of the elephant study, previously told Live Science.

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The question now on everyone's mind, of course, is whether we'll ever be able to actually talk to these sea creatures-and one of the researchers who worked on the study told BBC News that, indeed, the project's success suggests rudimentary conversations with a trained orca may one day be possible.

The anatomical structures cetaceans-including whales, dolphins, and porpoises-use to make sounds are different from those used by land-dwelling mammals and birds.

In the wild, it has been found that different killer whale pods use unique vocal dialects.

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Another standout copycat, the lyrebird, mimics not only other animals, but also the sounds of construction equipment and vehicle horns, demonstrating its prowess in the 2009 documentary series "BBC Earth".

"Although the ability to copy sounds of individuals of the same species is widespread in birds, it is remarkably rare in mammals and, among primates, is practically exclusive to humans", the press release announcing the study. She successfully reproduced some sounds-such as the phrases "hello" and "one, two, three"-on her first attempt". Bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales have been captured producing noises they are exposed to.

The researchers found that Wikie successfully copied all of the sounds, a lot of them in fewer than 10 tries.

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Wikie also copied the trainer in saying words like hello and goodbye. Scientists believe that these findings lend support to the theory that these dialects are a result of imitation between orcas. However, he noted to further test the idea, trials would have to be conducted with wild orcas.

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