An ‘alphabet’ in whale songs

In an image provided by Amanda Cotton, a group of sperm whales rattles off clicks that sound like a cross between Morse code and a creaking door to communicate with each other. — ©️2024 The New York Times Company

EVER since the discovery of whale songs almost 60 years ago, scientists have been trying to decipher their lyrics.

Are the animals producing complex messages akin to human language? Or sharing simpler pieces of information, like dancing bees do? Or are they communicating something else we don’t yet understand?

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