A recent article published in Current Biology (), shows that Northern elephant seals have the ability to memorize the rhythm and timbre of other seals. The ability to perceive rhythmic sound is thought to be rare in mammals other than humans. The documented cases are a result of behavioral training.
Mathevon, et. al., 2017, state that “In the northern elephant seal , the calls of mature males comprise a rhythmic series of pulses, with the call of each individual characterized by its tempo and timbre; these individual vocal signatures are stable over years and across contexts”. Their research shows that elephant seals use this information to identify individual rivals.
To read the entire study:
Nicolas Mathevon, Caroline Casey, Colleen Reichmuth, Isabelle Charrier, Northern Elephant Seals Memorize the Rhythm and Timbre of Their Rivals’ Voices, Current Biology, Available online 20 July 2017, ISSN 0960-9822, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.035.
Image: By original image by Jan Roletto, uploaded 18:58, Feb 26, 2004 - de:Wikipedia by de:User:Baldhur, edited by Matthew Field - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (http://www.noaa.gov), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3440642
Keywords: rhythm perception; metrical patterns; rhythm; timbre; individual vocal recognition; mammal; rival assessment