Scientists Uncover the Anatomical Secret Behind Whale Songs 

Whale songs are among the most beautiful sounds on planet Earth, audible from far distances in the world’s oceans.

Now, scientists have finally discovered how these sounds are emitted by these marine mammals that feed through filtration.

Researchers say that baleen whales, such as humpback whales, including the largest creature on Earth, the blue whale, use a larynx, or vocal box, which allows them, through their anatomical structure, to emit sounds underwater. Researchers added that whales have an anatomical arrangement, a lining of fat and muscles inside the throat.

This means that giant whales emit their sounds using their larynx similar to humans, but there is also another mechanism for emitting sounds using a specific organ in the nasal passages of toothed whales, such as dolphins, porpoises, killer whales, and sperm whales.

Discovered in the 1970s, giant whales were found to be highly vocal, but the precise manner in which they emitted their sounds remained a mystery.

Koen Eelmanz, a biologist at the University of Southern Denmark, said: “They are among the most awe-inspiring animals on our planet, extremely intelligent and social animals, surpassing dinosaurs in size, feeding on the smallest shrimp species, and possessing a rare ability to learn new songs and spread their sound culture across the planet.” Eelmanz is the lead author of the study published in the scientific journal Nature.

He added: “To communicate and find each other in the dark oceans, giant whales rely crucially on sound emission, for example, humpback whale females communicate with their calves by sound, and males sing to attract females.”

  1. Techmesieh Vitch, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Vienna and a study co-author, said: “What is astonishing is that… the primary source of sound, which is the nature inherent in the interaction between air and tissues, follows the same principles as in other mammals, from rorquals to tigers to elephants, and even humans and birds.”

Vitch added: “It appears that all these living species have exploited the same array of tricks to emit sounds, despite using different organs or different parts of organs to emit these sounds.”

The study also showed that whale sounds fall within the same frequency and ocean depth range, approximately 100 meters, where human-made ship noises occur, thus hindering whales’ ability to communicate.

Eelmanz said: “Unfortunately… baleen whales are limited in terms of organ functionalities, and they cannot easily shift to higher or deeper layers to avoid human interference.”

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