New research has just added ‘human speech’ to the accomplishments of Orca Whales. A feat previously reserved for primates, birds, elephants, dolphins and seals is a new Orca skill that’s surprised even the scientific communities.
While heretofore whales were known for their impressive communications skills through a unique blend of clicks and songs, one member of their species has stepped out to replicate the sound of the human voice.
14-yr old named Wikie
Scientists recorded the 14-yr old killer whale named Wikie repeating the words ‘hello’ and ‘bye bye’, counting up to three, and even saying the name of her trainer ‘Amy.’
Hailing from Mainland at Antibes, France, it's the first in the whale to speak like a human.
This accomplishment is even more unique because whales do not have the same vocal ability as humans. While humans use the larynx to speak, whales produce sounds through their nasal passages by using short and long bursts of air.
José Abramson of the Complutense University of Madrid, asserted: “vocal imitation is a hallmark of human spoken language, which, along with other advanced cognitive skills, has fueled the evolution of human culture.
“We found that the subject made recognizable copies of all familiar and novel and human sounds tested and did so relatively quickly, most during the first 10 trials and three in the first attempt.
“Our results lend support to the hypothesis that the vocal variants observed in natural populations of this species can be socially learned by imitation.”
In the ocean depths, killer whales live in pods and are known to have have its own dialect, which includes calls that are completely unique to themselves. Some clicks are even thought to represent names. But it was unclear where that knowledge came from, or if it is totally accurate.
Before the human speech discovery, previously, killer whales were observed mimicking the barks of sea lions and the whistles of sea dolphins and beluga whales.
So readers, if you would like to teach an Orca Whale a new word or phrase, what would that would you select? Maybe something ecological like “Happy Earth Day?"
Primary Source: World’s First Talking Killer Whale