A scientist has discovered that previously thought to be silent sea creatures can actually communicate.
The 53 sea creatures have been found to be able to send messages forever, but humans haven’t taken the step to listen to them, suggests scientist Gabriel Jorgewich-Cohen.
He used microphones to record species, including turtles, where he found they communicated when they wanted to mate or hatch from the egg. The findings claim to rewrite some of what we know about evolution.
The findings suggest that all vertebrates that breathe through the nose and use sound to communicate are descended from a single ancestor 400 million years ago.
Mr. Jorgewich-Cohen, a doctoral student at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, began his work with the feeling that marine animals could communicate with sound. He has used audio and video equipment to record 53 species in captivity around the world, including the Chester Zoo in England.
The creatures included 50 turtles, a tuatara, a lungfish, and a caecilian.
All of these animals were thought to be silent, but Mr. Jorgewich-Cohen suggests they were not heard because their sounds were difficult to detect.
“We know when a bird sings. You don’t need anyone to tell you what it is. But some of these animals are very quiet or make a sound every two days, “he said BBC news.
Mr. Jorgewich-Cohen added that humans have a bias towards land-dwelling creatures and therefore have ignored underwater species.
Recorded video of the animals making noise allowed them to link sound with associated behavior – to distinguish from accidental sounds that don’t send a message.
“The sea turtles will sing from inside their egg to synchronize hatching,” he explained. “If they call from within, they all go out together and hopefully avoid being eaten.”
The turtles also make noises to indicate they want to mate, he said, pointing to videos of the turtle mating sounds that are popular on social media.
Mr. Jorgewich-Cohen also recorded the tuatara making sounds to protect their territory. He then began to consider what the discovery revealed about the evolution of noisy animals.
Using a technique called phylogenetic analysis, Jorgevich-Cohen reconstructed the relationship between noise-producing animals.
He concluded that all acoustic communication in vertebrates descends from a single ancestor 400 million years ago, which was the Devonian period when most species lived underwater.
This contrasts with recent work that traced communicative sound to several different species 200 million years ago.