HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
Could Humpback Whales Be Singing Grammatically?

THE songs of the humpback whale are more complex than anyone realised. So claim scientists in Massachusetts who are analysing the "grammar" of whale calls with information theory. They hope this approach will tell them more about the purpose of the animals' clicks and squeals.

Information theory was born in the late 1940s, thanks to an influential series of papers by Claude Shannon of Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Shannon described a way to measure the amount of information in a stream of symbols via the stream's "entropy" or unpredictability. The symbols could be anything from binary code to letters in words. Crucially, the less predictable the stream of symbols, the more information it is likely to contain-just as the repetitive sequence "eat eat eat" conveys less information than the non-repetitive sequence "eat this pie".

The same tools can be applied to whale calls. "The humpback whale song slowly changes over the season," explains John Buck of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. "They have different themes that are repeated in a regular order-some die off, some are modified, and some are added."

These themes are made up of predictable sequences of sounds, or phrases. Buck and his colleagues took recordings of humpback whales and measured variations in the songs, such as changes in frequency. They then turned these measurements into a sequence of symbols representing the different themes and measured the entropy of the sequences.

At a joint meeting of European and American acoustical societies in Berlin next month, Buck's student Ryuji Suzuki will announce the preliminary findings. Buck says the entropy of the whales' calls hints that they may have a hierarchical grammar, in which one sound is varied to agree with a sound quite far back in a sequence. This is the same as human languages, where a word at the end of a sentence can be grammatically linked to the first word.

"I'm intrigued,
'"/>

Contact: Claire Bowles
claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk
44-171-331-2751
New Scientist
24-Feb-1999


Page: 1 2

Related biology news :

1. Endometriosis: Could angiostatic therapy be the new treatment of the future?
2. Could mice hold the secret to longer life?
3. Could vitamins raise levels of bad cholesterol? Animal study suggests they might
4. Could memory performance and spatial learning be genetically based?
5. Could a specific protein contribute to erectile dysfunction for the diabetic and obese?
6. Could diabetes treatments fight cancer?
7. Could rice be the source for a natural herbicide?
8. Could hibernators hold the key to improving organ preservation?
9. Could Bt transgenic crops have nutritionally favourable effects on insects?
10. Could one less cookie a day help the fight against fat?
11. Could an anti-marijuana compound hold the key to body weight and appetite control?

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:1/18/2017)... MedNet Solutions , an innovative ... spectrum of clinical research, is proud to announce ... the organization in terms of corporate growth, outside ... and services. The company,s exceptional achievements can be ... iMedNet ™ – MedNet,s ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... PUNE, India , January 12, 2017 A new report ... 2022," projects that the global biometric technology market is expected to generate revenue of ... Continue Reading ... Allied ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140911/647229) ...
(Date:1/6/2017)... Colo. , Jan. 5, 2017  SomaLogic ... the "Digital Life Alliance" established by iCarbonX, the ... 2015 to build a "Global Digital Health Ecosystem ... on a combination of individual,s biological, behavioral and ... the agreement between the companies, SomaLogic will provide ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/18/2017)... Applied BioMath ( www.appliedbiomath.com ), the ... and development, today announced that Dr. John ... Applied BioMath, will present at the next Boston ... on Thursday January 19, 2017 at the Broad ... Dr. Burke,s talk "Quantitative Modeling and Simulation Approaches: ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... Total Orthopedics ... implanted SpineFrontier’s A-CIFT™ Solofuse-P™. The operation took place on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 ... procedure was an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion on a 42 year old ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... MYOLYN, ... that it has submitted a 510(k) to the FDA, requesting clearance of the ... functional electrical stimulation (FES) technology. , The submission marks a major milestone ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... 18, 2017 , ... BidMed, LLC, announced it will hold a ... lab equipment from two different leading institutes. This highly specialized laboratory equipment is coming ... States. This 1-day online auction will take place on BidMed’s website http://www.bidmed.com ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: