Soundscape ecology is beginning to get more attention these days, but what about soundscape evolution? It is intriguing to think that all the biological sounds we associate with life going on around us only evolved within the last half-billion years. After all, the microbes that dominated our planet for most of its lifetime have no way of producing sound.
The origins of biological sound production, first pinned to the rise of grasshoppers some 250 million years ago, are moving back in time, however, as more and more living species are being recorded as sound producers. A recent study suggests that the common ancestor of all terrestrial tetrapods, that fish that started to walk on land some 400 million years ago, was already vocal.
Inspired by this finding, I had a look at the evolution of our soundscape for my latest feature which is out now:
When animals learned to speak
Current Biology Volume 32, Issue 23, 5. December 2022, Pages R1287-R1289
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See also my twitter thread with all this year's CB features.
As the bird site seems to be going the way of MySpace, I will start a Mastodon thread in the new year, just couldn't be bothered to redo all the copy-pasting for the 21 features already out this year.
Hatchlings of aquatic turtles face danger as they emerge from underground nests and move to their watery habitat. Several studies now suggest they may be using acoustic communication to coordinate their emergence and thus improve the survival chance for each individual. (Photo: Omar Torrico/WCS.)