A talking whale, you say? It might sound like something out of a cartoon, but according to a new study by an international team of researchers, it’s totally real: A captive killer whale has learned to “say” human words.
The new research on Wikie, a 14-year-old orca who lives at Marineland Aquarium in Antibes, France, demonstrates a world-first case of a killer whale’s “talking” abilities, using human language words such as “hello” and “bye-bye.” The audio recording of her words, which you can listen to for yourself below, is just as adorable as you’d guess.
Wow! We knew that killer whales were highly intelligent animals, but we had no idea they were brilliant enough to repeat human words like this. We still can’t get over how strikingly similar that sweet “hello” is to a human saying that word. But then again, another case back in 2014 showcased a killer whale’s abilities to use new “dialects” to communicate across species, so perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised after all!
“The results reported here show that killer whales have evolved the ability to control sound production and qualify as open-ended vocal learners,” the researchers said.
Though this is the first known case of a killer whale “speaking human,” there have been a few instances of other animals mimicking human language, such as a beluga whale, harbor seals, and even an elephant.
Maybe we humans should try to start learning some animal languages in the meantime to catch up!
h/t Science Alert
Next, watch some adorable cats sitting just like humans in the video below: