Whales hunt using vocal fry register as Katy Perry and Ariana Grande

Sounds fishy…but dolphins, whales and porpoises share a noisy secret with Katy Perry and Ariana Grande, researchers have discovered. Both groups use the vocal fry register which has the lowest pitch and a creaky sound. For singers it adds texture to a tune, while toothed whales use it in echolocation to find fish.

It was thought the high seas creatures made sounds with their larynx, like other mammals. But research shows they evolved an air-driven system in their noses.

Prof Peter Madsen, of Aarhus University, said that allows much higher pressures – up to five times what a trumpeter generates – without damaging lungs.

In a study presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, endoscopes filmed the vibration of phonic lips which act like human vocal cords.

Toothed whales, like humans, have at least three registers including vocal fry. Prof Coen Elemans, of the University of Southern Denmark, said it “is often used in American English. Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and Scarlett Johannsen are well-known people using this.

“While vocal fry may be controversial in humans and may be perceived as everything from annoying to authoritative, it doubtlessly made toothed whales an evolutionary success story.”

In vocal fry, phonic lip folds open briefly using very little air and the “clicks” help whales locate fish in darkness up to 6,500ft down.

The findings are in the journal Science.

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