Saturday, November 6


This is from July, but I just came across it last week and "squirreled" it away. It seems that "Richardson's ground squirrels," which seems to be a kind of gopher, "emit an ultrasound squeal to warn other animals that a predator is approaching." Researchers had noticed that upon the approach of humans and other potential predators, "the animals made audible alarm calls, opening their mouths wide and thrusting their bodies forward. But occasionally, a squirrel would do this but make no sound, its open mouth producing only a faint whisper of rushing air." The researchers recorded these whispering calls and found they contained pure ultrasound tones too high for people to hear. And "when they broadcast pure tones of this frequency to other ground squirrels, the animals recognised them as a warning and became more vigilant than usual, tilting their heads to listen and look for predators." Some would say this shows how animal intelligence and communication is more prevalent than we can measure so far, but others would point out how silly the ground squirrels must have felt when they realized the ultrasound tones were recorded, and that they'd been punk'd by us humans! Yesssss!

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