- New Science in Brief
Sperm Whales' Language Reveals Hints of Culture
These deep-diving whales off the Galápagos have their own dialects, a sign that they have a culture.
New ways to grab dinner, the trick to using a tool, and learning the local dialect. These are behaviors that animals pick up from each other. Killer whales, chimpanzees, and birds seem to have a cultural component to their lives. Now a new study suggests that sperm whales should be added to that list.
The ocean around the Galápagos Islands hosts thousands of female sperm whales and their calves that have organized into clans with their own dialects. (Mature males congregate in colder waters near the poles.) How these clans form has been something of a mystery until now.
A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications suggests that culture—behaviors shared by group members—keeps these