Why we got an alligator to inhale helium

Why we got an alligator to inhale helium

From our journal article: Reber, S. A., Nishimura, T., Janisch, J., Robertson, M. and Fitch, W. T. (2015). A Chinese alligator in heliox: formant frequencies in a crocodilian. J. Exp. Biol. 218, 2442-2447. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.119552

By Rachel Feltman in the Washington Post
“Sometimes science is weird. Sometimes science is making an alligator inhale helium. If you were ever a kid, you probably know what happens when humans inhale helium: Your voice gets all squeaky. That’s because the pitch of your voice is influenced by resonance. When your vocal chords vibrate, they cause air molecules inside your vocal tract to vibrate, too. “
By Kathryn Knight on Journal of Experimental biology :

“Once humans master verbal communication, we babble incessantly on any topic under the sun. But even animals that are equipped with less sophisticated communication systems depend on the same resonances that we skilfully shape with our vocal tracts for communication. Stephan Reber from the University of Vienna, Austria, explains that vibrations – produced when air is pushed past the vocal folds – force air trapped in the vocal tract to vibrate (resonate) and it is these resonances that shape bird song and human syllables. “

By iflscience :
“It’s a hilarious party trick that never seems to get old. But scientists didn’t make an alligator inhale helium just for scientific jokes: they wanted to find out why these vocal creatures are so noisy. Both males and females loudly inform the world of their presence year-round using calls known as bellows, although they churn them out more frequently during the mating season. Such long-distance vocalizations have been known to convey certain physical characteristics about the caller, like sex and body size, which is important for both courtship and territorial behavior.”

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