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article imageScientists discover elephants sing like humans do

By Melissa Horrocks     Aug 6, 2012 in Environment
A new study conducted on a dead elephant has demonstrated to researchers that elephants sing in the same way that humans do. The vocal sound is so low that it is inaudible to humans, but it is, nonetheless there.
Elephants may not be singing the same tunes that humans do, but they sing in elephant language. According to BBC News, researchers have discovered that elephants use an ultrasound rumble, that is too low for humans to hear. The voice is used as a way of keeping the herd together and for males to attract females. Indeed, the male elephants use a bass singing voice that would be perfect in any choir, if it could be heard by the human ear.
The same vocal mechanism that human singers use, is used by elephants. Elephants use this vocal technique to communicate with their mates, over a distance of six miles. The low bass sound that elephants produce is at a frequency below 20 Hertz and may not seem like it has anything to do with singing. However, researchers have found that they are produced in exactly the same way as the human voice is produced.
Daily Mail reports that, experts wondered if the elephant infra-sound was produced like a cat's purr, through muscle twitching movements of the vocal cords. However, it is now known that the elephant's infra-sound is produced in the same way as human's. The sound is made by air that is blown through the voice box. A German team carried out laboratory research on a larynx from an African elephant that died of natural causes, at Berlin zoo. Pressurized air was passed through the larynx to check if the elephant calls could be reproduced. It was discovered, much to the amazement of scientists, that they could be.
It was reported in the Journal Science that, Although we can clearly rule out a role for active muscle twitching in our excised larynx preparation, we obviously cannot eliminate the possibility of such ‘purring’ in a living elephant.
According to The Indian Express, the low pitched voice is connected to the dimensions and tension of the vibrating tissue, that is founded on clearly understood physical, principles. Scientists said that the elephant voice box vibrates in a similar way that the human larynx does, demonstrating that flow-induced vocal fold vibration provides a physiologically and evolutionary efficient way of producing the same, intense low-frequency sounds used in elephant long-distant communication.
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