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Vocalization of Animals – Explanation and Types of Sounds

Sep 9, 2022
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Key Concepts

  • Vocalization
  • Mechanical Sound
  • Communication
  • Sound Based Signals
  • Vocal Chords
  • Importance of Animal Sounds

Introduction

Invertebrates communicate through mechanical sounds.  

Rattlesnakes shake a series of beads in their tail, while crickets rub their hind legs along a row of projecting spikes.  

 Rattlesnake with tail beads
Cricket

Mammals, reptiles, and birds all have different vocalization mechanisms.  

A larynx is a voice box at the top of the throat that protects the airways in reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.  

The vocal cords, which are made up of folds of tissue, can vibrate to allow people to speak, pigs to grunt, and lions to roar. 

parallel
Larynx in animals

The syrinx is a vocal organ found at the base of the windpipe (trachea), where it splits into the bronchi (tubes that connect the trachea with the lungs).  

Vibrating membranes, specific sections of the bronchial or tracheal walls, clearly initiate and modulate sound vibrations in the tracheal air column. 

 Singing birds and maybe other birds can regulate the right and left portions of the syrinx independently, allowing them to sing with two distinct voices. 

Syrinx in birds

Explanation 

Mechanical sounds are also produced by several vertebrate members using organs that have evolved and specialized for specific functions.  

The stomping and drumming of the ground by members of several animals with their feet are examples of this. 

parallel

This produces a slapping sound when applied to the water landscape.  

The slapping can also be done with the help of a tail, which the aquatic animals use as a warning signal in the case of whales. 

The sounds produced by the moving bones and teeth of fish against each other are likewise created by aquatic animals. The swim bladder can sometimes operate as a resonating cavity.  

 Elephants stomp and produce sound
Whale slaps the tail and makes sound

A similar strategy is used by American beavers to alert fellow beavers of impending danger. Their tails have a paddle-like form. The sound is louder when the tail is wider and thicker.  

Crocodiles and turtles are reptiles that make low-pitched sounds. Similarly, lizards and snakes hiss under stress. 

American beaver make sound with tail
Crocodiles make a low pitch or negligible sound

Types of sounds and animals: Cry/whine, howl, bark, roar, growl, chuff, click, croak, whistle, and hoot are all examples of vocal noises.  

Many animals can make a variety of noises. Dogs can bark, growl, howl, chuff, and cry. Each sound has a different meaning. Barking can be used to warn of impending danger or to attract attention. 

Howling is a type of communication used to bind a group of canines, which is also utilized by wolves. 

Dog growling
Wolf howling

Woodpeckers use their strong beaks to make sound by striking the bark of trees to create thuds, similar to how a drummer uses a stick to beat a drum. 

To communicate, marine mammals employ a range of clicks and whistles. In water, sound travels far further than in air. A whale call can be heard more than 4000 kilometers away. 

A bird on a tree

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Dolphins whistles

When rabbits and hares are stressed or upset, they make vocal grunts, but they also employ mechanical sounds to communicate. When they detect danger, they will stamp their hind feet on the ground to alert the rest of the group. 

By forcing air past their larynx, frogs produce loud croaks. The sound is amplified by an air sac beneath the chin that acts as a speaker. During the breeding season, males are the most vocal, as they use their sounds to attract females. 

Rabbits make a sound of their feet
Frogs produce large crocks

Threatening vocal sounds are also used. Walruses can make loud booms or clangs to frighten predators away, warn others of impending danger, and show dominance over smaller walruses. 

Many animals use sound during courtship. Every bird species has its own song, which is a series of chirps designed to attract a mate. During the breeding season, aquatic mammals make various sounds. 

Walrus make booms
Birds sing songs

Female animals frequently make a unique voice for their offspring. The sounds that her children make can often distinguish them from those of other females. 

If a child wanders too far from their mother and becomes separated from her, the mother will make a call or sound to draw the child back to her. 

In addition, the child will create some sought of sounds that will make mothers aware of their hunger or comfort. 

Lioness and cubs

Sound is a powerful tool for asserting power. When another dog challenges them, a dominant dog will often growl or chuff. This form of communication can often be enough to stop a physical confrontation and prevent injuries. 

Sound is frequently used in hunting. Scientists believe that sperm whales may paralyze their prey with sound. The ‘big bang hypothesis’ is another name for this.  

The loudest sound ever recorded by an animal came from a sperm whale. The click was recorded at 234 decibels off the coast of Norway. This information is important in proving the ‘big bang’ idea. 

Crab and shrimp can make a sound wave by snapping their jaws together, which creates an air pressure wave (air bubble) that would stun nearby fish and make it easier for them to catch fish. 

Sperm whale produces the loudest click
Crab snap their jaws and make sound

Animals that do not produce sound 

Animals that move make sounds with their bodies all the time, but it’s an unconscious sound. The animal frequently makes mechanical sounds on purpose. 

Snails, slugs, and worms, for example, do not make a sound as a means of communication. The only sound they are known to make is when their bodies rub against the ground while moving. 

Sharks are usually silent animals. They don’t growl or click, and they communicate through body language rather than sound. 

Another aquatic animal that does not make a sound on purpose is the jellyfish. 

While swimming, they can make sound waves with their tentacles or bell, although this is an unconscious sound, because they do not have a brain. 

Snail
Shark
Jellyfish

The table illustrates the different sounds made by different animals. 

Table showing different animals
Table showing different animals

Summary

  • Animals make noises to communicate with others, such as warnings, threats, dominance
    displays, and mating attraction.
  • There are two types of sounds made by animals: vocal and mechanical. Vertebrates have
    the ability to produce vocal and mechanical sounds.
  • Animals communicate by utilizing visual, auditory, or sound-based signals, chemical,
    involving pheromones, or tactile, and touch-based signals.
  • Invertebrates communicate through mechanical sounds.
  • Mammals, anurans, and birds all have different vocalization mechanisms.
  • The syrinx is a vocal organ found at the base of the windpipe (trachea), where it splits
    into the bronchi (tubes that connect the trachea with the lungs).
  • Crocodiles and turtles are reptiles that make low-pitched sounds. Similarly, lizards and
    snakes hiss under stress.
  • Cry/whine, howl, bark, roar, growl, chuff, click, croak, whistle, and hoot are all examples
    of vocal noises.
  • Many animals use sound during courtship. Every bird species has its own song, which is a
    series of chirps designed to attract a mate. During the breeding season, aquatic mammals
    make various sounds.
  • Sound is frequently used in hunting. Scientists believe that sperm whales may paralyze
    their prey with sound. The ‘big bang hypothesis’ is another name for this.
  • Snails, slugs, and worms do not make a sound as a means of communication. The only
    sound they are known to make is when their bodies rub against the ground while moving.

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