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:2/3/2016)... --> --> ... Fingerprint Identification System Market by Component (Hardware and Software), ... Finance, Government, Healthcare, and Transportation) and Geography - Global ... expected to be worth USD 8.49 Billion by 2020 ... 2020. The transformation and technology evolution from the manual ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... 2016 This BCC Research report provides ... reviewing the recent advances in high throughput ‘omic ... field forward. Includes forecast through 2019. ... and opportunities that exist in the bioinformatic market. ... as well as IT and bioinformatics service providers. ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... VIEW, Calif. , Feb. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... retinopathy market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes US-based Intelligent ... America Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product ... provider in North America , ... in the rapidly growing diabetic retinopathy market. The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... 10, 2016  IsoRay, Inc. (NYSE MKT: ISR), a ... medical radioisotope applications for the treatment of prostate, brain, ... its financial results for the second quarter and six ... --> --> ... fiscal 2016, which ended December 31, 2015, a 12% ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Latham, NY (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... photodiode packages at the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco’s Moscone ... and 14 in the same venue. , These latest InGaAs PIN diode standard ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , ... February 10, 2016 , ... Cenna Bioscience Inc., ... the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, announced today it has been selected to present at ... the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. The purpose of the Forum is to ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... ... services, announced today the launch of its revamped and improved website. In an ... service solutions, the redesigned website will better communicate how the company designs and ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: