Friday, April 15, 2011

PACE trial proves, CHT is in, CBT is out, Friday 15 April 2011:

Humpback whales spread catchy songs to each other through the ocean, research has shown.

Male whales whistle mating tunes that either prove a hit or miss. Catchy "remix" versions of the songs quickly spread across the ocean, almost always travelling east to west, scientists have found.

Usually the songs are made up of blended old and new material. But sometimes a song is judged to be a failure and dropped altogether, making way for a new tune.

Researcher Ellen Garland, from the University of Queensland in Australia, said: "Our findings reveal cultural change on a vast scale."

She said popular songs moved like "cultural ripples from one population to another", causing all the males to start singing the new version.

The scientists made the discovery after spending a decade searching for patterns in songs recorded from six neighbouring Pacific whale populations.

They found it took about two years for male mating songs to spread from Australia to French Polynesia.


Garland described how the whales combined samples of "classic" tunes with new material.

"It would be like splicing an old Beatles song with U2," she said. "Occasionally they completely throw the current song out of the window and start singing a brand new song."

Once a new song emerges, it quickly catches on among the males, rising to the "top of the chart" over the course of one breeding season. Read more>>

PS: CHT: Catchy Humpback Tunes

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