There have been records of fishes and dolphins singing, but now scientists have managed to get grey seals to sing as well. A new study suggests that grey seals are capable of singing movie themes and can mimic human speech. Researchers at the University of St Andrews have trained three grey seals to copy sound sequences of the Star Wars theme and nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. A video of the grey seals singing these tunes was shared online and you should surely give it a listen. Ever Heard a Whale Sing? Scientists Record 'Song' of Rare North Pacific Right Whale.
Vincent Janik and colleagues at the University of St Andrews in the UK worked with the seals from their birth and trained them to copy sounds. For this, they changed parts of our speech sounds which were modified to encode information. So the sea mammals were trained to copy sequences of their own sounds. Then the next step was to create melodies in their pitch. After that, they were presented with human vowel sounds. The seals eventually were able to mimic these sounds. Eventually, one of the seals named Zola picked up on the melodies, copied the sound and picked up notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Watch Video of the Seals Singing After Being Trained to Mimic Sound:
Talking about the success of the training, Vincent Janik was quoted in a report, "It takes hundreds of trials to teach the seal what we want it to do, but once they get the idea they can copy a new sound pretty well at the first attempt." He mentioned that humans and seals share the same neural and anatomical structures as humans. Wild Grey Seal Loves to Hug Humans and Hold Their Hands - Watch The Adorable Video.
Although the study doesn't mean we can start conversing with the seals in speech scientists mention that further studies could help to study speech defects in the future. It would also help in understanding speech development.