[Cyborg] dolphin language

Mitch Altman maltman23 at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 15 07:40:09 UTC 2011

If Dolphins can communicate shapes that they haven't actually experienced, but are shapes from their imagination, that implies that they are capable of either design, or art, or both.  That's way cool. Mitch.  ------------------------
 > Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 23:23:48 -0500
> From: mrericboyd at yahoo.com
> To: cyborg at lists.noisebridge.net
> Subject: [Cyborg] dolphin language
> http://speakdolphin.com/ResearchItems.cfm?ID=20
> I'm having a little difficulty understanding the article, but my gist is 
> this:
> 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?
> http://www.cymascope.com/cymascope.html
> 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 :-)
> Eric
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