If humans, of all creatures, are the ones to have been gifted the faculty of speech, it never means that other animals cannot communicate with each other – rather, each has his own manner of interaction, perhaps even giraffes which are otherwise known to be relatively silent. It was only recently suggested that giraffes hum to each other at low frequencies as a way of communication. The findings are published on BMC Research Notes.
Scientists have focused on analysing the ways giraffes communicate for long enough. However, no sound of this kind had ever been heard coming from them. Some researchers even suggested that their incredibly long necks might have something to do with an apparent difficulty to emit sounds. Therefore, the new study provides invaluable insight into the lives of giraffes.
The researchers of the newly-published paper evaluated data from recordings – amounting up to around 1,000 hours – gathered from 3 different zoos in Europe. That was how they discovered the low-frequency hums the giraffes would emit at night.
“I was fascinated, because these signal have a very interesting sound and have a complex acoustic structure,” said lead author Angela Stöger in a statement to New Scientist.
The hums recorded had a frequency of about 92 Hz – this falls within the range heard by humans, but it is only very low. They were found to be of varying lengths and of different combinations of notes.
Is this humming a way of interaction or just a passive sound like a snort?
The researchers are yet to confirm either hypothesis.
“It could be passively produced – like snoring – or produced during a dream-like state – like humans talking or dogs barking in their sleep,” said animal behaviour expert, Meredith Bashaw, from the Franklin Marshall College.
“Alternatively, it could be a way for giraffes to communicate with each other in the dark, when vision is limited, to say, ‘hey, I’m here’.”
More research will be needed to figure this out.