Big Question: Will we Talk to Animals

Discovery News is currently running a series of articles about the “Big questions for 2012”. On the 15th of December, the big question was “Will we talk to the animals?”.

If I could pick a superpower, this would be my superpower.

Studies have already shown that dolphins and humans use the same mechanics to create sound (Ie: the blowhole functions shockingly like a larynx). Studies indicate that children, in particular, are keyed in to understand dog barks (though I’m a part of this club, still. I can identify different types of barks from my dogs, and associate those with the correct meaning much as a parent works out what different sounding crys from their infants mean). Strides have also been made with our closest relatives, the Bonobos, in understanding how their vocalizations communicate information about the food they eat.

Jennifer Viegas, who wrote the original article goes so far as to speculate that their might be a primitive communication method that lies under the surface in all mammals, including linking to an article about the subject from 2006.

I hope this gets worked out in 2012. Nature won’t give me a superpower. I’d love to be able to buy the one I’ve always wanted…