February 27, 2007
songs related to whales: Expert
National News -
February 23, 2007
Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The homecoming of 5-year-old Sumatran rhinoceros Andalas from
the U.S. brings to light the fact that, like whales, Sumatran
rhinos can "sing".
Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, president of the Hillsborough,
North Carolina-based Fauna Communications Research Institute,
told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that publicizing the
fact that Sumatran rhinos also sing may contribute to efforts to
protect this endangered species.
"The way rhinos and whales sing is very similar, nearly
identical," she said by phone from Hillsborough.
"This shows that whales and rhinos might be closely related.
It could be said that rhinos are whales on land."
The bioacoustics expert said she had been working with
Andalas, born in the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001, since the calf was
6-months-old until he was moved to Los Angeles Zoo. Von
Muggenthaler has been working on rhino vocalization since 1992.
Out of four rhino species, only Sumatran rhinos can sing.
"The Indian, African black and white rhinos do not sing. We do
not know anything about Javan rhinos because none are in
captivity," she said.
When asked why only Sumatran rhinos sing, von Muggenthaler
offered the suggestion that genetically Sumatran rhinos are the
oldest of the species.
Three Sumatran rhinos, one male and two female, were recorded
"singing" at the Cincinnati Zoo for a total of six hours in
According to a paper co-authored by von Muggenthaler, rhinos
are exceptionally vocal, even producing sounds when they are
eating. Results indicate that there are three main types of
vocalizations, strung together to form a constant "song". The
three calls are described as eeps, whistle blows and whales. The
whale call is named so because it sounds similar to the song of
the humpback whale.
The paper was published by the Acoustical Society of America
at the American Institute of Physics and can also be found
online at www.animalvoice.com.
Von Muggenthaler hoped once the fact that Sumatran rhinos
were able to sing was widely known, people would start
protecting the species. Rhinos are poached for the powder in
Andalas arrived here Monday and was immediately transferred
to the 100-hectare Way Kambas rhino sanctuary in Lampung.
"I support Andalas' repatriation to the sanctuary as it
provides a genuine breeding population.
"But people need also to understand that this creature is
singing the songs of the forest," Von Muggenthaler said.
A spokesman at the Forestry Ministry, Masyhud, said he was
unaware of the ability of Sumatran rhinos to sing.
"I haven't heard any rhinos 'singing'. But nevertheless, we
will carry out our conservation plans for all rhinos, whether
they can sing or not."
Watch out for the premiere of Yap film's latest
Hi-Def film ‘Tigers Attack’. Part One airs on Discovery at 9pm GMT Sunday
February 4; Part Two at 9pm on Sunday February 11.
It's said a tiger's roar may literally stop people in their tracks, paralysing
its prey and giving the predator time to pounce, catch and kill. This is a quest
with an Apex Predator at its heart. A scientific investigation that reveals new
knowledge, demolishes popular belief and solves a mystery.
CAN ANIMALS PREDICT
DISASTER? A ONCE FARFETCHED IDEA
GAINS CREDENCE IN SCIENTIFIC
CIRCLES, AS THIRTEEN/WNET’S NATURE REVEALS, NOVEMBER 13 ON PBS
see or seismic research page for more info on our
was once a “foolish” notion, largely written off as an old wives’ tale: that
animals can sense impending natural disasters.
today, given potent impetus from events preceding last winter’s catastrophic
tsunami, it’s attracting serious scientific attention around the world as an
idea with the potential to save countless human lives.
Thirteen/WNET New York’s NATURE series travels to four continents
to examine this provocative and intriguing subject in Can Animals Predict
Disaster? – premiering Sunday, November 20 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS
(check local listings).
still a controversial idea, but one that’s now recognized as possibly having
valid underpinnings in physics and biology,” says Fred Kaufman, executive
producer of NATURE. “You don’t have to believe in paranormal
perception to understand the arguments suggesting that some animals can pick up
clues that humans can’t perceive. It has become a compelling and tantalizing
During the hours that separated last December’s cataclysmic earthquake off
Sumatra and the devastating tsunami that followed, reliable witnesses reported
elephants in Thailand trumpeting and wailing wildly, then suddenly scrambling
for higher ground; a huge herd of antelope in India stampeding away from the
shoreline; hippos in a Malaysian zoo bolting for their shelters and refusing to
emerge; and flamingoes interrupting their breeding rituals to flee the Indian
Elephant trainer Aniwat Jongkit, speaking at his family’s elephant riding center
for tourists near Phuket, Thailand, relates on camera how on December 26th
he awoke to the
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sound of two of the camp’s elephants wailing inexplicably. Later that day, he
says, something far more telling was to occur:
“About five minutes before the tsunami, the elephants became very agitated…they
pulled and broke their chains…and ran up the hill.” He and another trainer
chased after them in vain. After a while they felt a strong wind and heard
behind them “the sound of water and broken trees.”
Conservation biologist Ravi Corea, president of the Sri Lanka Wildlife
Conservation Society and a member of a special government committee assessing
ecological damage from the tsunami at Yala National Park, reports on the
“surprisingly little evidence of fatalities among higher vertebrates.”
Can Animals Predict Disaster? examines a variety of possible
science-based explanations for this and other animal behavior observed in
advance of disasters. These include magnetic field variations, ground tilting,
shifts in electrical current intensities, changes in humidity in response to
ground water volume, and the ability of many animals to hear “infrasound,”
carried on sound waves below the decibel level of human detection.
Included in the program, in addition to Mr. Corea, are:
Quantum geophysicist Motoji Ikeya, professor emeritus at Osaka
University, author of Animals and Earthquakes and a leading authority on
the subject of animal perception of natural phenomena;
Dr. Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell of Stanford University, whose
pioneering experiments in Africa have revealed how elephants may be
communicating through seismic waves;
Biology professor William Barklow of Framingham (Mass.) College, a
leading researcher in Africa in the field of hippopotamus communication,
including underwater vocalizations;
Bio-acoustic researcher Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, president of
the Fauna Communication Research Institute and chair of the North Carolina
chapter of the
American Institute of Physics’ Acoustical Society of America.
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Can Animals Predict Disaster? is a production of Optomen Productions,
Inc. and Thirteen/WNET New York. Producer: Jeff Swimmer. Executive producer
for NATURE: Fred Kaufman. Executive producer for Optomen: Beth
N NATURE, which begins its 24th season this fall,
is produced by Thirteen/WNET New Y York for PBS. William Grant
The series has won close to 300 honors from the television industry, parents
groups, th the international wildlife film community, and environmental
organizations, including mmany Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award and the
first award given to a tetelevision program by the Sierra Club.
NATURE is made possible in part by Park
corporate support is provided by Canon U.S.A., Inc., and
Ford. Additional ssupport is provided by the nation’s public television
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