Scientists at St Andrews University were “amazed” to discover how well grey seals could copy human sounds “given that these are not typical seal sounds”. While their vocal skills were “pretty impressive” vocal skills, non-human primates have “very limited abilities”.
The research on seals could shed light on the speech process as a whole and even help lead to new ways to study speech disorders, the academics said. Talking to the animals Dr Doolittle-style still appears a far off prospect.
However, given that human beings a member of the wider animal family, it’s likely they will have many things to teach us, whether it’s a swimsuit that mimics the skin of a shark, plane wings that change shape like a bird or zebra-like camouflage.
And that’s yet another reason to be concerned about the rapid rate of extinction of animal species. The grey seal is one of the rarest seal species in the world, let’s make sure its song never dies.