09:15 12 August 2016
A recent research has found that humans are not the only species who communicate with their young before they were born. Dolphins teach their babies a signature whistle two weeks before birth. These whistles are sounds made by individual dolphins that identify them. The same phenomenon is seen in humans, in which babies develop a preference for their mother’s voice in the last trimester.
Researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi observed a dolphin mother at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California and have suggested that mothers teach their babies the whistle as part of the imprinting process. Dolphin calves eventually make their own individual whistle.
They recorded 80 hours of sounds from the mother, baby and other dolphins in the enclosure, two months before birth. The recordings showed that the mother dolphin began increasing her signature whistle two weeks before birth. Meanwhile, other dolphins in the same enclosure did not produce their own signature whistle at very high rates during this time.
Lead researcher Dr Audra Ames, said: ‘What the other dolphins might be doing here is remaining quiet so the calf does not imprint on the wrong signature whistle.’
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