American alligators are chatty reptiles. They start out their lives chirping for their mother’s help as they push themselves out of their eggs, and, as they grow up, the knobbly archosaurs communicate with a suite of hisses, rumbles, and bellows.
But how do alligators make such sounds? Anatomists have known that alligators and other crocodylians vocalize through their larynx for over a century and a half, but the acoustic abilities of the reptiles have not been as extensively-studied as those of birds and mammals. A new study by Tobias Riede and colleagues is helping to remedy that, including the discovery that a hitherto-unappreciated muscle helps create the crocodylian chorus.
The alligator vocal apparatus isn’t all that different from ours. The reptiles have