One Cracked Fact: Dolphins Have Boy Bands That Sing Together For Years
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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:
Top image: Noah Wulf