Nature has a lot to tell us, literally

Scientists are placing microphones in remote places, in the sea and on land. They’re discovering that other creatures have a lot to say, especially outside our hearing range.

For example, research by Camila Ferrara at Brazil’s Wildlife Conservation Society has demonstrated that Amazonian sea turtles make more than 200 distinct sounds. Ferrara’s research showed that turtle hatchlings even make sounds while still in their eggs, before they hatch, to coordinate the moment of their birth. Ferrara’s acoustic research also revealed that mother turtles wait nearby in the river, calling to their babies to guide them to safety, away from predators: the first scientific evidence of parental care in turtles, which were previously thought to simply abandon their eggs.

These studies are revealing a lot about animal behavior, even their culture.

By recording many hours of bat vocalizations and decoding them using AI algorithms, scientists have revealed that bats remember favors and hold grudges; socially distance and go quiet when ill; and use vocal labels that reveal individual and kin identity. Male bats learn territorial songs in specific dialects from their fathers and, much like birds, sing these songs to defend territory and attract mates, which scientists characterize as culture.

And it’s not just animals joining in nature’s symphony. Your tomato plants make different noises when they’re thirsty.

Flowers and vines have evolved leaves to reflect echolocation back to bats, as if they were luring their pollinators with a bright acoustic flashlight. In response to the buzz of bees, flowers flood themselves with nectar. Plants respond to some sound frequencies by growing faster; and some species – including tomatoes, tobacco and corn seedlings – even make noise, although well above our hearing range.

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