Dolphins use a double sonar

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Dolphins use a double sonar

June 07, 2011 - 19:35
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Researchers from Sweden and the US have now discovered that dolphins can generate two sound beam projections simultaneously.

“The findings add fuel to an already fierce debate in the research community on how the echolocation sound is produced”, says Josefin Starkhammar.

Dr Starkhammar’s own guess is that the two sound projections come from the two different sound-producing organs, the existence of which is well known, but it was believed that only one was active during echolocation. She stresses that more research is needed. For example, the two projections could also be explained by complicated reflections in the head of the dolphin, where the sound is formed.

“It is also somewhat remarkable that this has only been discovered now. Research has been carried out on dolphins and echolocation since the 1960s”, says Josefin Starkhammar.

The study, which was carried out together with scientists from San Diego, was published in the latest issue of the journal Biology Letters. The co-authors of the article were Patrick W. Moore, Lois Talmadge and Dorian S. Houser, who work at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in the USA.

The beam projections have different frequencies and can be sent in different directions. The advantage is probably that the dolphin can locate the object more precisely.

—Josefin Starkhammar

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