New Discovery: These Seals Can Recognize Each Other's 'Voices'
Romance in the world of northern elephant seals is generally rough going.
Males weighing upwards of 4,000 pounds duke it out in bloody battles to establish themselves as alphas. These males control access to females—in part by using a complex set of vocalizations—while beta males are generally left in the dust.
“When we saw all of the males calling to each other, we hypothesized they might be communicating about their size and ability to fight,” says Nicolas Mathevon, an animal acoustics researcher at the University of Lyon and Saint Etienne in France.
While observing the animals at northern California's Año Nuevo State Park, Mathevon and colleagues noticed the beta males recognized the “voices” of their dominant male counterparts and