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Thought to be Quiet, Giraffes Hum at Night

posted: 09/18/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
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Despite a common belief that giraffes' long necks could preclude them being able to vocalize, biologists have discovered that giraffes are indeed capable of humming.

Researchers from University of Vienna analyzed thousands of hours of audio recordings taken at three different European zoos, taking note for the first time of a low-frequency hum coming from the giraffe enclosures at night.

Two giraffes with long necks
Heinrich Van Den Berg

Unfortunately, the recordings are audio-only, so researchers aren't yet sure what physical activities correspond to the humming -- it's even possible that the humming may not be an active process.

"It could be passively produced - like snoring - or produced during a dream-like state - like humans talking or dogs barking in their sleep," Franklin & Marshall College's Meredith Bashaw told New Scientist.

If it turns out that the hums are consciously produced, however, they could help researchers better understand how giraffes communicate within their highly structured societies.

H/T PBS

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