There are at least 50 species of animals that communicate with each other. They were earlier considered mute animals. A recently published research report has claimed that the ability to communicate by speaking in these organisms was developed about 400 million years before a common ancestor.
Recording of silent animals
Gabriele Yorgevich-Cohen, evolutionary biologist and lead author of the research report, told AFP that while conducting research on turtles in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil, he came up with the idea of recording the sound of silent animals. “When I got back home, I decided to start recording my pets,” Yorgwich-Cohen says.
It also had a turtle named Homer, which he had raised since childhood. He was surprised to see Homer and his other pet turtles making a sound from the throat. After this, he started recording other species of turtles, for this, sometimes he used hydrophones i.e. underwater microphones. “Every single species I recorded was making a sound,” said Yorgwich-Cohen, a researcher at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Then we started asking this question and how many animals are there that we consider mute but they create a voice.”
Dialect of turtle, fish, reptile
This research report of Yorgwich-Kohin has been published in the journal Nature Communications. In the research, there are recordings of 50 species of turtles as well as three more very unique organisms that are considered silent. One of them is a species of lungfish fish that has lungs along with gills. With their help, this fish also survives on the ground. After this, the second species is an amphibian which is like a hybrid of snakes and insects.
The research team has also managed to record the voice of a rare reptile found in New Zealand, called Tuatara. Once it was spread in every corner of the earth. All these animals make a sound out of the throat such as kit kit or Twitter or something similar. However, these sounds are not necessarily very loud. Many animals make these sounds only a few times a day.
Millions of years old shared ancestor
The team combined their findings with data from the origin history of acoustic communication of 1,800 other species. They then used an analysis called “ancestral state reconstruction” to explore how it was related to old-time organisms. It was previously understood that the communication emanating from the throat of four-legged animals and lungfish has evolved differently. However, Yorgwich-Cohn says, “Now we have seen the opposite, they all come from the same place. We have seen that this group has a common ancestor who was already making voices and deliberately using those voices in dialogue.
Their shared ancestor was living on Earth at least 407 million years ago in the ancient period. John Vines, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona in the US, said that the emergence of sound dialogue from a common ancestor in lungfish and quadruped organisms is a very interesting and surprising discovery.
Voice and Dialogue
Wiens was not involved in this research, but in 2020, she published a research report called “The Origin of Sound Communication in Vertebrates.” He has also said that in the research, there may not have been a “mandatory distinction between the sounding organism and the actual sound dialogue”.
Yorgwich-Cohen said that the researchers specifically compared video and audio recordings to identify the sounds to be extracted in the dialogue and detected specific behavior. For this, different groups of animals were also recorded, so that it could be found out how they make sounds in particular conditions.
He admitted that studying some species was very difficult because they do not make a quick sound and are a little shy.