[Cyborg] dolphin language

Eric Boyd mrericboyd at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 15 04:23:48 UTC 2011


I'm having a little difficulty understanding the article, but my gist is 

Dolphins have a visual language, where they "talk shapes" with each 
other, by manually reproducing the sounds that they would hear if they 
did their ecolocation against an object.  So basically, not only can 
they make the outgoing ultra-sonic click-train, they can *also* make the 
incoming echo sounds, and thus "repeat" what they "heard" to each 
other.  The article even speculates that they can generate the sounds 
for objects they haven't actually encountered, but only imagined - if 
so, you can imagine that would be super powerful!

Translating such a powerful visual language into English is left as an 
exercise for the reader :-)

The scientists claim to use a CymaScope, anyone seen one of these things?


I'm super intrigued by these results, but I have to say, the article 
doesn't seem to actually say it the way I said it.  The results all talk 
about just replying the reflected sounds from real objects, and having 
the dolphins recognize them - this is not surprising, it would be like 
us seeing a video of an object, and then later pointing out the object: 
not necessary indicative of *language*, merely of perception and 
memory.  You could train most any mammal to do it, fairly easily.  And 
when the article later talks about language, there is a suspicious lack 
of experimental details.  Do the dolphins actually generate the much 
more complicated reflected sound waves, and not just the outgoing 
clicks?  That would be simple to verify.  But if they do generate such 
complicated sounds, you'd think this would have been discovered and 
understood long ago, since it would seem really obvious if dolphins 
repeated sounds they just heard back to other members of their tribe... 
you'd literally hear the same thing twice on a microphone, but only once 
preceded by the click train.

Or maybe that's one of those things that is only obvious in hind-site?

Anyway, fascinating, and I still want to build my ultra-sonic 
audification echo-location rig :-)


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