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

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

In any event, the findings show that the intricacy of killer whale communication reflects their complex social structure.

Minchin said: 'Every time you hear it, you just can't help yourself can you?' Walker added: 'I don't know what it is about that noise, but it just does me every time'.

"But we were surprised by how close it was".

Scientists studied a 14-year-old killer whale named Wilkie who had previously been trained in another study to copy actions of other orcas.

In each trial, the killer whale was given a "do that" hand signal by a researcher, but offered no food reward.

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"We wanted to see how flexible a killer whale can be in copying sounds", Josep Call, professor in evolutionary origins of mind at the University of St Andrews and a co-author of the study, told The Guardian. "We are interested in the possibility that other species also have cultural processes".

A number of studies have suggested the unique dialects observed in different pods of orcas and other whales can be explained by their ability to learn through mimicry.

A beluga whale has also been observed learning to "speak dolphin", in a case described just past year.

"After one has done it, one of the next questions is, can all killer whales do it?" A French ban on breeding whales and dolphins in captivity has faced legal challenges. "The capacity for vocal imitation shown in this study may scaffold the natural vocal traditions of killer whales in the wild".

Abramson, who led the research, warned about "imposing" human concepts on animals. They travel in close-knit groups called pods, usually comprised of 5-30 individuals, although occasionally some pods can number over 100 orcas. Wikie attempted some breathy raspberries.

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New research reveals that orcas are able to imitate human speech, in some cases at the first attempt, saying words such as "hello", "one, two" and "bye bye".

That's according to a new study published this week (Jan. 31) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. Since then, many changes have been made by theme parks in the care of their animals and heartening progress has been developed towards conservation, rescue and rehabilitation...but still, there's not much for the whales to do most of the time.

As Wikie started mimicking her calf's voice, she was exposd to five ocra sounds along with six human sounds including "hello", "Amy", "ah ha", "one, two" and "bye bye".

Heike Vester, director of Ocean Sounds, a nonprofit cetacean research organization based in Germany, noted that this research was limited by its sample size of one.

"Wikie succeeded in copying all sounds regardless of whether they were produced by a model of the same species, either live or through a speaker, or by a human model", Complutense University of Madrid (link in Spanish) said in a statement. They may copy other members of their kind in the wild, although this needs to be tested.

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