Why do these male furry mammals sing with a human rhythm | 24 kitchens

As the sun rises over the Dead Sea, male rocky badgers in Israel crawl out of their dark burrows and begin to sing.

To the human ear, tones sound like a cross between the crackling of a hyena and the scratching of chalk on a chalkboard. But for the female rock hyrax, each chorus is a powerful song that reverberates through the valley. The more males keep the rhythm, the more females faint.

Scientists have a spectral analysis of the courtship song of rock lint next to

The results of several successive breeding seasons. This comparison showed for the first time that males who sing more and keep the rhythm better also produce offspring with greater survival. The research was published this week in the journal Journal of Animal Ecology.

Using colored ear tags and collars, the scientists were able to identify the animals from a distance and compare their singing with the results of paternity tests. (Listen to male singing.)

“The simplest explanation is that consistent rhythm is attractive or at least reflects quality in some way,” said study leader Vlad Dimartsev. During the research, a behavioral ecologist worked at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior.

Just like people’s songs, rock and badger songs get more and more complex. They reach a climax that brings the listener to the edge of her seat or, in this case, the edge of the rocks.

It’s not that they’re just signaling. ‘It’s not that they are signaling as simply as possible,’ says Dimartsev. (Read more about unknown sources of noise in nature.)

“They put in a good show,” he says.

The song is mightier than the sword

For the past two decades, scientists at Ein Gedi Nature Reserve in Israel have been studying badgers. These mammals are about the size of a rabbit and are related to the elephant.

When the male acquires the right to live with a group of up to thirty females, both young and small, he can hold this coveted position until the end of his life. These animals can live to be nine years old.

However, in rare cases, the dominant male may be overthrown by an outside male, known as the celibate. This may be one of the reasons why male badgers sing all year round and not just during the mating season in July and August.

According to Demartsev, it is possible that aggression between males can be prevented when the male indicates his value with song.

“It’s the kind of ritual that can reduce the need to fight. After all, a fight can have many consequences for both parties,” he says.

Singles vs. Male Dominants

Scientists also discovered a difference in the male singing style.

Although dominant males often sing songs with a steady rhythm, they become less sophisticated after they take control of the group.

All females know you and already know what your qualities are. They live in the same sleeping dens as you, Dimartsev says. “So you may need less investment to achieve the same.”

But most males are celibate and their singing becomes more complex with age. (Read why this sparrow suddenly began to sing a new tune.)

This may be because singles regularly try to lure younger females to the edge of the group. However, these females tend to be less experienced mothers as well. This may explain why the offspring of dominant males are likely to survive their first year of life.

The reason why females attract males with rhythm is still not clear. When as many nuts as possible are crammed into one breath, it can throw off your fitness level. Arranging these notes in a repetitive rhythm is the most effective way to do this.

The origin of the rhythm

Only a few decades ago, many scientists assumed that animals communicate according to patterns that were fairly consistent. So says Chiara Di Gregorio, a primatologist at the University of Turin in Italy. She is also the author of a 2021 study on lemur singing, which inspired the study of lint rock song.

“We are now learning that these types of patterns can change based on context and even depend on other aspects, such as male traits,” she says. (Read how mice that sing can learn new tunes.)

This research is important not only to better understand rock badgers or lemurs. Every time scientists discover a species that communicates through rhythm, for example, there is evidence of what appear to be ancient components that ultimately influenced how people compose and enjoy music.

Di Gregorio: I think these patterns are clearly more common [in het dierenrijk] than previously thought.

This article was originally published in English at nationalgeographic.com.

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