Humpback whale alters song if another one sings along

Study offers a new way to explore tunes’ meanings

By Susan Milius, 13:49 PM October 22, 2009

Quebec City, Canada — Like a songbird calling another out, one male humpback whale may make another change his tune.

Studying humpbacks with methods adapted from bird research has uncovered the first known instances of what look like whales responding musically to each other’s songs, says Danielle Cholewiak, a researcher for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary based in Scituate, Mass. Cholewiak and colleagues detected melodic adjustments when a solo singer encountered another singe...

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