What if we could actually understand the animals around us? What insights could we get from these creatures who experience the world in entirely different ways than we do? Let’s see how close we are to communicating with them!

With advances in technology, scientists are discovering that animals have a lot more to say to us than we’ve thought in the past! By recording the sounds that dolphins and rats make while observing their behavior, we’re beginning to learn more about their languages and how they communicate both among each other and with us.

If you’ve ever looked at an animal and thought, “I wonder what they’re thinking?” then you’re going to enjoy this. They may have been telling you the answer in their own way this entire time.

Image: underwater shot of three dolphins. One dolphin is looking at the camera!

Source: Pixabay

What if you could talk to a dolphin?

No… really, what if you could talk to a dolphin?

This notoriously intelligent species has been the focus for many of our experiments with consciousness and seeing if animals have the capability to “think like humans” (we’ll get back to that idea later). And now, researchers have found that they’ve been able to pick up on what we’re communicating and have been responding back… we’ve just been lacking the abilities to hear them!

Take a look at the device and the techniques scientists, like renowned wild dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, are using to get some insight into how these magnificent creatures function in their own societies in this great video brought to us by Quartz.

They’ve made some absolutely brilliant discoveries!

Via: Quartz  1
We’ve paired this video with thought-provoking discussion questions perfect for the classroom in this touchstone on our education platform, EWCed!

You can learn more about Denise Herzing, the Wild Dolphin Project, and their decades of underwater research by visiting their website. And make sure you stay up to date with all that they’re doing by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Check out this past article of ours if you’d like to hear more from Denise about the possibilities that communicating with wild dolphins brings us!

16 minutes

Communicating with WILD Dolphins

Imagine what it would really be like to understand the mind and communicate with another intelligent species on the planet. Dolphins may be the first.

Read More

And if you’d like to see more great content from Quartz, make sure you head over to their channel! They’ve quickly become a favorite of ours here at EWC.

Going deeper into animal communication!

Comparing our intelligence to theirs doesn’t seem like a fair assessment. So what if the question isn’t if they think like us or not? What if it’s simply, how do they think?

Instead of comparing all of the creatures on the planet to the human experience, what would happen if we shifted our ideas of intelligence, communication, and society to encompass the multitude of ways it’s been duplicated in creatures who are successful in their own right?

25 minutes

You’re Probably More Like a Crow than You Thought

These birds probably live near you, but have you ever noticed just how intelligent they are? No? Well, you’re in for a treat.

Read More

Take rats for example. They’ve been around for millions and millions of years, slowly evolving their techniques. And then we came about and they quickly adapted to our ways as well. There has to be something to that—especially since they’ve been super chatty for as long as we’ve known them.

To look deeper into how rats are communicating, a couple of researchers who work with these animals every day have teamed up with deep learning technology to create what they’re calling, DeepSqueak.

The algorithm in this piece of technology is able to quickly analyze the different high-frequency noises the rats emit and group them together. What they may have discovered from this is something that we once thought only to be possible for humans: syntax. And of course, where there is syntax, there is language. And where there is language… well, you probably see where I’m going here.

See for yourself what Kevin Coffey and Russell Marx are up to at the University of Washington in this great video from Verge Science.

These are animals that we typically test on before we use certain substances on ourselves. How would it affect those studies if we were able to actually communicate with them and see how they’re really being impacted by the test?

You can read the paper that Kevin and Russell published with John F. Neumaier in Nature about DeepSqueak by following this link! And of course, for more great content from Verge Science, head over to their channel! They have some awesome content waiting for you.

There’s this common idea that the way humans think, communicate, and behave is superior to other species.

But isn’t what we’re doing still considered “animal communication”?

Yes, it’s true, we’ve come very far and created a lot of things! But what about the creatures who have been around for millions of years longer than us? What makes us believe that they haven’t developed their own complex structures of communication and behavior as well?

Just because we haven’t figured it all out yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

And the beauty of the two videos above is that they show how we’re getting closer to tapping into that knowledge and understanding the bigger picture of the world—past the scope of the understanding of one single species that’s been around a measly 200,000 years.

Imagine all of the information and possibilities for progress that we’re missing out on because we can’t talk to any of the other species that live on this planet!

Humans are pretty phenomenal works of evolution, but there are millions of other species that have gone through more evolution, and with that, they’ve been able to pick up on certain nuances of the world that we aren’t tuned into. Like elephants being able to sense earthquakes, the possibility hidden in the intensity of sperm whale clicks to each other, and the high-frequency communication between the friends we learned about earlier.

They’re literally able to sense the world differently than we can. If we could tap into that, imagine all that we can learn?

We don’t even know all that they could tell us about the world yet, but there’s one thing that’s true: we won’t know if we don’t ask, and we can’t ask until we understand them more.

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein 

Looking to meet a few more cuties? 

We have an entire category dedicated to learning about all of the animals we share this planet with! See who you can meet by clicking the button below.

Animals on EWC

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  1. “Inside Our Quest to Talk to Dolphins.” YouTube, Quartz, 7 Dec. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-QjrTaypw0. Accessed 5 Mar. 2019.
  2. “This Algorithm Decodes Rat Squeaks and Could Revolutionize Animal Research.” YouTube, Verge Science, 19 Feb. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=25LYVxTUZhM. Accessed 5 Mar. 2019.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.