What’s this sperm whale saying? (Image credit: Reinhard Dirscherl via Getty Images) Sperm whales are among the loudest living animals on the planet, producing creaking, knocking and staccato clicking sounds to communicate with other whales that are a few feet to even a few hundred miles away. This symphony of patterned clicks, known as codas, might be sophisticated enough to qualify as a full-fledged language. But will humans ever understand what these cetaceans are saying? The answer is maybe, but first researchers have to collect and analyze an unprecedented number of sperm whale communications, researchers told Live Science. With brains six times larger than ours, sperm whales ( Physeter macrocephalus ) have intricate social structures and spend much of their time socializing and exchanging codas. These messages can be as brief as 10 seconds, or last over half an hour. In fact, "The complexity and duration of whale vocalizations suggest that they are at least in principle capable of exhibiting a more complex grammar" than other nonhuman animals, according to an April 2021 paper about sperm whales posted to the preprint server arXiv.org. This paper, by a cross-disciplinary project known as CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative), outlines a plan to […]


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