Singing Animals Get in Tune: Photos
These creatures won't win any Grammy awards for their vocals, but the fact that some of them sing, or sort of do, at all might surprise you.
This week we learned a bit about Brazilian torrent frogs. It turns out they'll do a lot to get attention, when it comes time for mating. They'll wave their arms around, squeal, do a bit of toe-tapping and, yes, even some singing. They might be the most complex communicators among amphibians. In honor of the little hopper, let's take a look at a few other animals out there that have some, perhaps unexpected, vocal chops.
A few years back, some enterprising scientists decided to give helium to gibbons for them to inhale, to test their physiology against that of humans. They found that gibbons share the same vocal structures as humans, and that the primates use the same techniques as opera singers when they make their calls.
This gulf toadfish looks like he might have a song or two in his repertoire, doesn't he? The fish "sings" (and other fish make sounds as well) in a kind of hum to attract mates.
Whales, such as orcas, and dolphins are well known for their sounds. Beluga whales, though, really earn the moniker "sea canaries" for their vocalizations. They're among the most "talkative" of the cetaceans, using calls and squeaks and squeals at such a high frequency that they can sound like birds. They use their vocals to communicate, navigate, and mate.
We should tip our hats to birds, of course. They're the real singing champs. After all, we don't throw open our windows in the spring and hope the frogs are singing.
Here's a crooner that might surprise you. We learned in the last year or so that mice modulate their songs based on whether or not a mate is in view. They'll sing louder when mates are smelled but not seen, and switch into Sinatra mode once a potential mate is in sight. Other mice, in the forests of Central America, will sing in high-pitched opera style to mark their territory.
Bats use high-pitched sounds for echolocation, but the male Mexican free-tailed bat also uses his vocals to sing particular mating songs for the ladies, into the bargain telling other male bats to, er, "buzz off."