CUMBERLAND, Va. — The first beagle out that day had brown eyes and a chunk missing from his left ear. His tail was a nub. It went from tan to white, then disappeared, maybe bitten off in a fight or caught in a cage door.
Get this from Salon - A new study reveals that, in their own special way, turtles chat with each other!
University of Zurich's Gabriel Jorgewich-Cohen is part of a team of international researchers who produced a landmark new study for the journal Nature Communications. Seeking to learn about the evolutionary origins of acoustic communication in vertebrates, the scientists recorded 53 species from four major clades — turtles, tuatara, caecilians and lungfish — to analyze what they heard. In the process, they learned that there are turtles, tuataras, and caecilians that engage in vocal communication, even though those clades had previously been perceived as non-vocal.
"When put in perspective, these findings show that vocal behavior is an evolutionary innovation that first appeared in the common ancestor of tetrapods (amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) and lungfish," Jorgewich-Cohen explained.
To be clear, this vocal behavior does not resemble anything as magnificent as a wolf howling or a bird tweeting. The Cayenne caecilian, in this journalist's opinion, produced sounds a bit like exaggerated yet strangely half-hearted armpit farts, while the mata mata turtle almost came across like a purring cat. Yet despite these seemingly alien vocalizations, the new study reveals that these creatures have much more in common with human beings than we had previously assumed. Rather than making these animals more exotic when compared to us, the new study discloses the extent to which we are part of the same family tree.