A 14-year-old killer whale in France has successfully imitated human speech

The vocal feats put Wikie, an orca on the Marineland aquarium within the metropolis of Antibes, in uncommon firm. Whereas birds comparable to parrots and mynas are recognized to have the ability to mimic human sounds, just a few mammals, together with a zoo elephant in South Korea, have been documented doing so.

Wikie had already been educated throughout earlier research to answer “copy” or “do this!” command, and this time the researchers used it after introducing her to sounds she’d by no means heard or uttered earlier than – some orca, some human.

She did properly, making “recognizable copies” of all of the sounds inside 17 tries, the researchers reported Wednesday within the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The orca obtained two of the human sounds proper on her very first try: “howdy” and “one, two, three.”

The worldwide group of researchers say Wikie’s expertise might make clear how every wild killer whale pod fashions its personal distinct dialect – a tribal language of types that scientists suspect is socially discovered. Orcas had beforehand been noticed mimicking sea lion and dolphin sounds, however the authors say this research is the primary to check their potential in a managed experiment. And Wikie’s efficiency, they are saying, exhibits that vocal imitation could also be one secret to killer whale communication.

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