09/22/2021 at 5:37 PM CEST
A multidisciplinary team of scientists has concluded in a recent study that some whistled languages used in different cultural and geographical settings can serve as a model for understanding communication between dolphins. They will make possible the development of algorithms destined to elucidate the communication strategies of these surprising aquatic mammals.
While humans and dolphins produce sounds and transmit information differently, the structure and attributes found in the dolphins human whistle languages they can provide information on how bottlenose dolphins encode complex information. This is established by specialists in the new research, published in Frontiers in Psychology.
This “connection” will allow us to explore the potential synergy between bottlenose dolphins and humans: these cetaceans have the largest brain relative to their body size in the entire animal kingdom. A member of the Delphinidae family, the bottlenose dolphin It is the most common and known of the more than 30 species of dolphins that exist.
They have incredible capabilities, having a brain even larger than that of chimpanzees, our closest living relatives: the brain of dolphins usually weighs about 1600 grams. Beyond these data, and the recognition of their social and cognitive abilities, much of the structure that supports the dolphin cognition remains a mystery.
Based on this, researchers are making different efforts to achieve break the communication barrier between dolphins and humans. If successful, both species could benefit each other in greater depth than has been achieved so far. According to a press release, the new study appears to have made an important advance in this regard.
According to specialists, the whistling language of humans and the whistling of dolphins they are interesting to compare. Both forms of communication are characterized by similar acoustic parameters and have a common purpose of exchanging information over long distances and in natural environments.
They are two large social species with significant cognitive development, which, depending on the richness of their interactions, develop communication structures based on complex codes. In different cultural settings, whistling They are used by the human being to make known important data, such as their location or their presence.
Related Topic: Animals communicate on frequencies we cannot hear.
Different communication structures
The great contribution of the new research is that the whistled language developed by human beings does not follow the same parameters as other forms of communication. For example, the linguistic competence required by the listener to understand oral communication through words is based on the understanding of phonemes, a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another and is separated by silences.
However, in communication with other sounds, units called sonograms, which are not always segmented by silences: this occurs in whistled human speech, giving rise to specific communication codes and structures different from those of oral communication with words.
So far, scientists trying to decode communication using whistles of dolphins and other species generally classify themselves based on the silent intervals between each expression. On the contrary, the new study shows that it is necessary to modify this scheme and pay attention to the structure in sonograms, characteristic of the human whistle, to find the keys of the dolphins’ whistles.
From this change of focus it will be possible to discover what is the minimum unit of significant sound in the dolphin whistling language, in addition to identifying the organization of these units and how they work in the general communicative context. Specialists believe that by delving into this new conception it will be possible to rethink the similarities and differences between the communication of humans and dolphins, bringing us a little closer to the world of these incredible cetaceans.
The Relevance of Human Whistled Languages for the Analysis and Decoding of Dolphin Communication. Julien Meyer, Marcelo O. Magnasco and Diana Reiss. Frontiers in Psychology (2021) .DOI: https: //doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.689501
Photo: Ranae Smith on Unsplash.