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BOTH: We are Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken.
And we're tracking down the most awesome...
-..and epic things in the universe!
BOTH: Come with us and discover unbelievable things that will...
Blow Your Mind will be bringing you all the top experts
on the planet, from icebergs to elephants, spaceships to sharks.
Look at that.
And this week it's all about amazing animals.
So, hold on to your brains, here's what's coming up.
You won't believe what we have to show you today.
Elephants talking to each other,
dolphins singing to each other,
and a deadly dino-dolphin!
Now, Chris, you know the story of Dr Dolittle?
-Yeah, the guy who could talk to the animals.
Well, today, we're going to be finding out that animals can
actually use a kind of language of their own to communicate with
one another, but first of all, I want Chris to help me
with a scientific experiment.
-OK, Chris, can you do a chimpanzee noise?
Ooh, ah, ah, ah, ah!
That's good. OK, what about a dolphin?
OK, that's good.
OK, and finally, I want you to do an elephant.
HE CLUCKS LIKE A CHICKEN
Now, scientifically, this isn't actually any use at all,
-but it is making Chris look like a bit of an idiot.
Chris Packham, on the other hand, has actually been
finding out that elephants can recognise each other by their calls.
Take a look at this.
This is the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, which is home
to some of the most social animals on the planet.
Not only are elephants extremely intelligent,
they're also very noisy, using over a dozen different
types of call to communicate with each other.
DEEP RUMBLING AND GROWLING
Karen McComb is a professor of animal behaviour
from the University of Sussex.
The elephants here are the most studied anywhere in the world.
The thing about this park that's outstanding
is the visibility of the elephants,
the population, more than 1,000 elephants
which we know individually.
Karen studies a special part of elephant language -
their contact calls.
These great noises allow elephants to keep in contact with one another
over long distances, even when they can't see each other.
Karen wants to find out if elephants can easily
recognise each other just by the sound of their contact call.
She's made a library of these calls.
Some recordings are of elephants familiar to the group,
but some are strangers.
Chris and Karen are going to use a giant speaker
to test the elephants.
So, Karen, exactly which call are we going to play to these animals?
Erm, here we're playing the call of a genuine stranger,
so an individual that they, erm, won't have encountered.
-So they've never heard this call before?
-Er, no, not in this case.
And we're expecting them, therefore, to respond
with a mixture of curiosity and alarm, I take it.
Yeah, for sure.
CHRIS PACKHAM: 'The reaction of the herd to the call can be very subtle.'
'Karen thinks our best chance is to observe the matriarch,
'the female leader of the herd.'
Right, you give me the shout and I'll hit the play button then.
-It's all set up, isn't it?
-Yep, so go.
ELEPHANT CALL RUMBLES
What do you think?
Well, the matriarch is listening,
you can see she's holding her ears out a little bit from the head.
She turned round, didn't she?
-She definitely stopped what she was doing and turned round.
-So she heard it, there's no question about that.
Those on the left hand side are walking away, aren't they?
There is a bit of defensiveness here.
There was bunching up within the group.
'The reaction to a stranger's call is even stronger with this larger herd
'that Karen's also filmed in Amboseli.'
ELEPHANT CALL RUMBLES
'Again they bunch up defensively, something they wouldn't do
'if they'd heard a call made by an elephant that they knew well.'
'Karen has discovered that the matriarchs are the best ones
'when it comes to identifying the calls of different elephants.
'This allows them to quickly distinguish between friend and foe.'
So it is amazing that elephants can recognise each other
just by the sound of their call.
If you imagine yourself in a stadium with thousands of people,
and you knew just a few of them, trying to pick out those people
if they shouted just "Xand" at you would be really difficult.
Yeah, it would be difficult,
and what's interesting is it seems to be the older, wiser female
leaders of the group that are best at recognising those calls.
So they've actually been remembering,
learning those different calls throughout their entire lives.
So it's true what they say, elephants do have a really good memory.
Yeah, that does seem to be true.
But if you think it's impressive that elephants can do that,
wait till you see the next animal, Delphinus capensis.
That's dolphins to you and me.
This time, Chris has gone to Florida to meet Vincent Janik,
who studies dolphins in the wild.
He's researching the sounds that dolphins make to communicate,
and he's using a brand new piece of cool kit to study them.
We're going out today to try to find wild dolphins
and attach tags to them,
which are little recording tags that can give us
information about the sounds that they're making and also give us
information about the behaviour, erm, as they're in the bay,
in their own wild environment.
CHRIS PACKHAM: 'A dolphin's been captured in shallow water,
'and the team works rapidly to minimise any distress to the animal.'
'Until now, it's been almost impossible to gather useful
'sound recordings of wild dolphins, for the simple reason that when
'they're in a group, you can't tell which one is making which sound.'
'Vincent's neat solution is to attach a recording device -
'it has suckers - to the animal's head.'
'It will now record all the sounds and all the calls made by this
'individual dolphin whilst also keeping a record of its movements.
'In addition, the device transmits a signal
'so the team can track the animal and recover the unique data at the end.'
'The dolphin's released.'
'This is all part of a bigger programme.
'Several dolphins are tagged.'
'At the same time, the scientists are constantly observing them,
'so later they can match their behaviour
'to the sounds they're making.'
'The device here measures the distance between the dolphins.'
What's going on over there?
Lots of splashing, I think I saw a dorsal fin. Right behind...
Yeah, two dolphins.
Is that dolphin swimming around with a sucker on its head?
That's right, the device is listening to
what the dolphin's saying.
I bet it's saying, "I look stupid with this thing on my head!"
I don't think it's quite that precise.
No, but, I mean, the dolphin has to swim around with
-this thing on its head for ever, that can't be good.
-Don't worry, Chris,
those clever scientists have thought of everything.
CHRIS PACKHAM: 'They've now been tracking the dolphins for six hours.
'The recorder then automatically detaches itself
'from the animal captured earlier, and the team retrieve it.'
'Back at base, the sounds can then be analysed.'
WHISTLING AND CLICKING
'At first listen, it's an absolute cacophony.
'A whole range of dolphin clicks, whistles and pulses.'
'Half of these sounds are not relevant to the study,
'they're used by dolphins to find their way around -
'the echo location clicks.'
'But Vincent's interested in these other ones -
'the communication calls -
'and one of them in particular.'
SHORT HIGH-PITCHED WHISTLES
'Every whistle is unique to each dolphin, just like a name.'
'And these are the only mammals apart from humans
'to have this type of personalised call.'
'And yet the whistle is not fixed.
'If male dolphins change their alliances
'they can alter their signature whistle.'
'We all know what these sinister notes mean.'
MUSIC: "Theme from Jaws" by John Williams
'And we also know what this is telling us.'
MUSIC: "The Wedding March"
'But, critically, we don't need a language to understand them.'
'And Vincent believes the calls of dolphins could be
'a completely different type of communication,
'as different from language as music is.'
So dolphins have learned to communicate
using their own form of language, and it isn't like human words,
it's more like musical notes.
It's as if each dolphin has its own theme tune?
That's right, so you'd know exactly who I was if I did this.
HE SINGS JAMES BOND THEME
-You'd be a sort of lame James Bond.
-OK, what about this then?
HE SINGS INDIANA JONES THEME
Yeah, a kind of out-of-tune Indiana Jones, yeah.
All right, what do you think my theme tune should be then?
If I was going to write a theme tune for you it'd be something like...
HE SINGS WIMPY MELODY # La, la, la-la-la. #
-I quite like that, actually.
Well, what I want to know is, if dolphins have learned
to communicate in this way, how did they do it?
Well, scientists think it's got something to do
with the evolution of their brains.
Check out this monster.
This is a recreation of basilosaurus,
an ancestor of modern dolphins from 36 million years ago.
It was a solitary hunter, ferocious enough to take on sharks.
But when scientists studied the brains of these giant creatures
they were surprised -
they had gigantic bodies but quite small brains.
Two million years later, drastic changes took place.
This is a recreation of dorudon, another dolphin ancestor.
Because it has a far smaller body size, the brain of dorudon
was almost twice as powerful as that of basilosaurus.
Around the same time, it's thought these ancient sea mammals
stopped living alone and began to live in groups.
Smaller dolphin ancestors like dorudon were forced to
group together to be able to defend themselves better
because they were smaller.
Scientists think that, as they became more and more social,
their brain size increased.
Which means that, amazingly, for over 30 million years
until early humans came on the scene,
these dolphins had the most powerful brains on the planet.
Wow, so dolphin ancestors learned to stick together to defend themselves,
and scientists think that's why their brains got bigger,
because of their social life.
That's the theory, that dolphins needed to be able to
communicate with each other because they were living together.
-It's just like humans.
-Exactly. So this afternoon,
we'll show you even more amazing animals with human-style behaviour.
-We've got emotional elephants in Africa.
-And we've got cheeky chimps that lie to each other.
-That's not good.
-So join us later and we'll...
-BOTH: Blow Your Mind!