One Cracked Fact: Dolphins Have Boy Bands That Sing Together For Years

Scientists thought humans were the only ones who sang in groups. They were wrong.
One Cracked Fact: Dolphins Have Boy Bands That Sing Together For Years

Here's a fact from the new One Cracked Fact newsletter. Want to read more like this, straight from your email inbox, without ads, and before anyone gets to read it on the site?

Sign up for the Cracked Newsletter

Get the best of Cracked sent directly to your inbox!

One way humans are in no way unique among animals is how much we love music. Birds sing too, of course. Frogs sing. Mice sing, using a pitch so high that humans can't hear it, which is probably for the best. Bats sing. Some kinds of insects sing. The toadfish, an especially ugly underwater dweller, sings with a low hum.

Almost always, animals sing to attract mates, much like humans do. Usually this puts animals in competition with one another—again, much like humans. Even when animals seem to be performing together, like with brilliant displays of fireflies flashing on and off in unison, scientists believe the animals are actually competing, just are a little confused about how to do it. 

So, in that sense, human singing is unique after all. Because though we do have televised singing competitions, with sex as the implied reward, we also sometimes purposely sing together in harmony. "That way," reasoned the first human who thought of this, "we'll sound even better. And we'll all get rich, then we'll ALL get laid!" 

Yes, we're the only species that does that ... or so we thought. Then scientists started looking at the bottlenose dolphins that live in Shark Bay, off the west coast of Australia. Unsurprisingly, male bottlenose dolphins attract females using sound, a special kind of click that marine biologists call "popping." Surprisingly, however, groups of males will synchronize their popping, changing their speeds from when they pop alone. This creates a new, stronger type of sound that the lady dolphins love. 

Don't picture a few random dolphins bumping into each other clicking then harmonizing by chance. Instead, what happens is males form singing groups and then choose to stay together and sing together for decades. 

Scientists are constantly finding weird new stuff about dolphin songs. Like how mothers sing to unborn dolphins in the womb, to teach them their names. Or how other creatures learn to recognize dolphin songs and flee from them. Creatures like the ugly toadfish, which makes up about 13% of the bottlenose dolphin's diet. And how do dolphins spot toadfish? By listening for the toadfish's song, of course. Yeah, sometimes maybe it's safer for animals to give the singing a rest.  

For more animal shenanigans, see also:

5 Ways The Animal Kingdom Will Make You Appreciate Tinder

6 Animals Whose Mating Habits Make Humans Look Like Prudes

The 7 Sleaziest Mating Rituals in the Animal Kingdom

Top image: Noah Wulf

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?