UK study shows seal singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'

UK study shows seal singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'
In this undated image made from video provided by the University of St. Andrews, a seal copies the sounds of the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, in St Andrews, Scotland. Researchers at the University of St. Andrews say gray seals can copy the sounds of human words and songs including "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." The study showed that three trained seals were able to imitate parts of the lullaby and as well as other popular tunes. The research team released their findings on Thursday, June 20, 2019 including video footage of the seals. (University of St Andrews via AP)

Researchers in Scotland say gray seals can copy the sounds of human words and songs including "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

The study by University of St. Andrews researchers showed that three trained seals were able to imitate parts of popular tunes.

The research team's findings were published Thursday, including video footage of the seals. The study gave the researchers a better understanding of the evolution of vocal learning and human language development.

It also suggested that could be a to study speech disorders since they use their vocal tracts the same way as humans.


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More information: Amanda L. Stansbury et al. Formant Modification through Vocal Production Learning in Gray Seals, Current Biology (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.05.071
Journal information: Current Biology

© 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Citation: UK study shows seal singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' (2019, June 21) retrieved 18 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-uk-twinkle-star.html
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Jun 21, 2019
Seals are smart and cute; dogs are adorable; but Cats Rule

This is certainly cute. However, I find all animals living freely in their natural habitat much cuter than those domesticated as cats and dogs and in that way crippled, usually just for our entertainment.

Jun 22, 2019
Dogs and cats have been evolved by human selection for thousands of years. They get love and attention from humans they treat as "mommy" for cats, and as the pack leader for dogs. They get food and a warm place to sleep. The seals don't need the warm place to sleep, but it's certainly easier making noises for fish than hunting fish with various predators hunting them.

If someone wants to hurt or kill them, then I'm against that. But if they're just being given fish for singing, I'm OK with that.

House cats and dogs are not being abused merely by being associated with humans; in fact, they've evolved to where they're dependent upon humans. Bad analogy.

Jun 22, 2019
I'd be interested to know if Tursiops Truncatus, the bottle-nosed dolphin, can do this; I expect so. They're far smarter than dogs, cats, and seals.

JRi
Jun 22, 2019
I find the video disturbing. They should let the seal free instead of forcing it earn it's food by doing what the people ask it to do like in circus.

Jun 22, 2019
I'd be interested to know if Tursiops Truncatus, the bottle-nosed dolphin, can do this; I expect so. They're far smarter than dogs, cats, and seals.

Remember "Day of The Dolphin" with George C. Scott?

Jun 23, 2019
I find the video disturbing. They should let the seal free instead of forcing it earn it's food by doing what the people ask it to do like in circus.


In the wild there are Orcas and sharks waiting to eat these seals. The ones in captivity are well fed and have companionship with their own kind, as well as providing Researchers with much needed information about Seal health, habits and other valuable data. If these Seals were unhappy, they would show it. The same with Dolphins in captivity.

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