A recent study found that sperm whales have different dialects. Until now, the concept of culture was mainly applied on human societies and has been long considered a human characteristic.
According to Mirror Daily, researchers have always wondered whether these cultural boundaries can exist within animal populations. Many studies have found evidence of such cultures in monkey populations, which were able to learn from each other and co-exist in hierarchical groups, giving the impression of a cultural conformity similar to ours. But no study on this matter until now was entirely conclusive.
A recent Canadian study published in the journal Nature Communications revealed that this sort of cultural conformity could also be found in the case of sperm whales populations. The animal is known for speaking several dialects, just like humans.
Language is usually defined as “ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication – particularly the human ability to do so.” Apparently, humans aren’t the only animals with major differences in language spanning across geographical areas. Sperm whales from the Galapagos Islands also posses this feature that was long considered an exclusive facet of human culture.
The team of scientists do not know exactly what kind of information is transmitted between these creatures, but they are certain that they make use of distinctive click patterns similar to the Morse code.
According to the author of the study, Mauricio Cantor, these variations of codas are similar to our regional accents. He and his team spent 18 years on the sea studying sperm whales. They have recorded more than 20,000 code samples and are willing to investigate further whether or not the giant creatures can learn from each other. The scientists want to introduce all the recorded data in computer simulations in an attempt to decipher how their language works.
One thing that makes their dialect different than ours is that their dialects do not belong to different isolated geographic regions. The scientists believe that their language adapts to a limited number of relatives or groups. Therefore, their dialects evolve differently as the sperm whales tend to recreate the sounds they hear from their peers.
Photo credits: wikipedia