Paper Boys

Episode 45

Can seals learn to sing and talk?

How did spoken language evolve? Seals may hold some of the clues...

Researchers have long been puzzled about how human language evolved. Humans’ ability to create complex, flexible, spoken language stands out in the animal kingdom, but little is known about how language developed, and particularly, how animals evolved to repeatedly create novel recognizable sounds (“formant modification” as it’s called in the study). Could any other animals learn to manipulate sounds in a similar matter and associate these sounds with meaning? Join us this week as Charlie brings in a fascinating paper (and several adorable videos) about new research seeking to understand if seals could learn to create human-like sounds.

Check out the paper from Current Biology, available here and the BBC article here

And of course, watch videos of seals singing here, here, and here.

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