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Picture this…

...sharing whale song

Thursday 27 July 2017

whale-song-potw-potw

St Andrews researchers have made new discoveries about how the extraordinary cultural phenomenon of humpback whale songs are learned and shared.

The team investigated rare cases of song hybridisation, found among thousands of hours of song from the South Pacific, where parts of an existing song were spliced with a new one, likely prior to an individual whale totally adopting the new song. The team unearthed two different kinds of structural rules guiding song change. In one, a whale sings some of the old and some of the new song, making a transition between them with a kind of short hybrid ‘phrase’. In the other approach they may splice into their current song a whole ‘theme’ from the new song others are beginning to sing. Read the full release on whale song research...

The full article, 'Song cultures of whales', by Dr Ellen Garland and Dr Luke Rendell of the School of Biology is published in a special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, The Extension of Biology through Culture, which features a new collection of articles by University scientists researching animal culture and behaviours.

'Tradition and "cultural intelligence" in the great apes' by Professor Andrew Whiten of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience and 'Culture may explain primate brain size, sociality and extended life histories' by Dr Sally Street, also of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Professor Kevin Laland, School of Biology, also appear in the PNAS special edition. Read the full release on the PNAS articles...

Picture this…

...sharing whale song

Thursday 27 July 2017

whale-song-potw-potw

St Andrews researchers have made new discoveries about how the extraordinary cultural phenomenon of humpback whale songs are learned and shared.

The team investigated rare cases of song hybridisation, found among thousands of hours of song from the South Pacific, where parts of an existing song were spliced with a new one, likely prior to an individual whale totally adopting the new song. The team unearthed two different kinds of structural rules guiding song change. In one, a whale sings some of the old and some of the new song, making a transition between them with a kind of short hybrid ‘phrase’. In the other approach they may splice into their current song a whole ‘theme’ from the new song others are beginning to sing. Read the full release on whale song research...

The full article, 'Song cultures of whales', by Dr Ellen Garland and Dr Luke Rendell of the School of Biology is published in a special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, The Extension of Biology through Culture, which features a new collection of articles by University scientists researching animal culture and behaviours.

'Tradition and "cultural intelligence" in the great apes' by Professor Andrew Whiten of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience and 'Culture may explain primate brain size, sociality and extended life histories' by Dr Sally Street, also of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Professor Kevin Laland, School of Biology, also appear in the PNAS special edition. Read the full release on the PNAS articles...