Orca learns how to mimic human speech, says 'hello'

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Previously, only three other mammals have been described doing so - an elephant in 2012, harbour seals in 1985, and a beluga whale in 2012 (you should listen here, it's hilarious and amazing).

"You can not pick a word that is very complicated because then I think you are asking too much - we wanted things that were short but were also distinctive", said Call.

In each trial, the killer whale was given a "do that" hand signal by a researcher, but offered no food reward.

And in 2006, scientists reported in the journal Biology Letters that a killer whale in Nootka Sound, British Columbia, could imitate a sea lion's bark - likely because the orca was solitary "and striving for attention", said Griffin, one of the researchers who analyzed those calls. "We are interested in the possibility that other species also have cultural processes".

It potentially explains why groups from different areas have different "dialects". For decades, scientists have suspected that orcas acquire these dialects through social learning rather than genetic inheritance. "We will gain more if we try to understand the natural way each species communicates in its environment than if we try to teach a human language", he said, according to The Mirror.

Speech recognition software was also used to test how well she performed, which showed three words came close to the "high-quality match" achieved by humans copying each other. A French ban on breeding whales and dolphins in captivity has faced legal challenges. But this isn't a human cry - it's the voice of a killer whale called Wikie.

Abramson, who led the research, warned about "imposing" human concepts on animals. It also makes them a popular marine park attraction since they can be trained, although this practice is highly controversial, since orcas are very social animals. She was then exposed to five different orca sounds that were unfamiliar to her. Wikie attempted some breathy raspberries.

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That may depend on whether you think speaking requires the transmission of meaning, but a new study confirms that killer whales can definitely "speak" the same sounds as humans, imitating words like "hello", "bye bye", and "one, two".

The researchers first asked human listeners to judge whether Wikie's calls matched the ones she was asked to parrot.

Say what? Orcas can mimic human speech - a few words of it, anyway.

We found that the subject made recognizable copies of all familiar and novel conspecific and human sounds tested and did so relatively quickly (most during the first 10 trials and three in the first attempt).

Heike Vester, director of Ocean Sounds, a nonprofit cetacean research organization based in Germany, noted that this research was limited by its sample size of one.

After listening to the human or whale sound, Wikie was requested to reproduce them by her trainer saying "do this".

But all of these animals have somewhat similar morphology, which is why the orca feat is so much more impressive.