Scientists Discover Dolphins Use Baby Talk When 'Talking' To Their Young

Scientists Discover Dolphins Use Baby Talk When 'Talking' To Their Young

Humans have studied animals ever since the beginning of time. There are some that tend to get more attention than others, however, and dolphins often come up in that list.

Not only are dolphins amazing and gentle creatures, but they also have an intelligence that intrigues the humans that study them. This is especially true in their seeming ability to communicate with each other.

Many scientists have tried to crack the code to make communication two-directional. It seems as if they may have taken this to the next level, as they now know something about the way dolphins speak with their young.


I think we all have a friend that can be straight with us about our worst traits, but they do it in such a way that it leaves us with a smile on our faces.

Perhaps this is because it isn't all about the things that we say but rather, the way that we say them.

Dolphins seemed to have figured this out ages ago, as a new study, published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences, points to the way that a mother dolphin will speak to her young.

Communicating With Baby Talk

They are referring to it as motherese, and it is a type of baby talk that mother dolphins use to communicate.

To be clear, I'm not talking about babbling baby talk, as many people do. I'm talking about the inflections that the mother puts in her voice to shift her pitch and tone when speaking to her little ones.

In speaking with National Geographic, lead Marine biologist on the study Laela S. Sayigh said: "We’re not changing the words that we’re saying; we’re changing the way that we’re saying them."

National Geographic went on to say that scientists have not found this method of communication in many animals. Some of the animals that do speak in this way include squirrel monkeys and zebra finches.

This particular study was a long time in the making. Scientists began during the 1980s, working in Sarasota Bay, Florida, with some bottlenose dolphins.

The unique vocal patterns dolphins used to communicate were no secret to scientists at that time. They wanted to see, however, if mothers shifted their tone when speaking to a calf.

After recording 19 mother dolphins with a microphone over the decades, they determined that their signature whistles were produced with a 'higher maximum frequency' when speaking with their own young versus other young dolphins.

The study stated that the data shows additional evidence that dolphins provide an animal model that is very powerful for studying language and vocal learning.

Not to mention the fact that dolphins are awesome.

Timothy Roberts

I love to write and it keeps me busy. I've been working online, full time since 1999. When you can't find me at the keyboard, you'll find me getting as much as I can out of life. I enjoy living simply, playing games, visiting the beach, and spending time with my family.

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