According to research from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, seals are capable of learning and imitating songs. Just as confirmation, this is someone’s job, which is goals.
The study, published in the journal Current Biology, monitored three grey seals, which were observed from birth and taught how to mimic sounds. Some of them were even capable of imitating human sounds. One of the seals, called Zola, was able to aptly mimic melodies like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and the ‘Star Wars’ Theme. Who wouldn’t?
“I was amazed how well the seals copied the model sounds we played to them. Copies were not perfect but given that these are not typical seal sounds it is pretty impressive,” said lead researcher Amanda Stansbury in an interview with BBC. “Our study really demonstrates how flexible seal vocalizations are. Previous studies just provided anecdotal evidence for this.”
Studies on these type of mammals are conducted with the purpose of understanding how vocal learning works, especially since they have very limited vocal abilities. “Finding other mammals that use their vocal tract in the same way as us to modify sounds informs us on how vocal skills are influenced by genetics and learning and can ultimately help to develop new methods to study speech disorders,” said Professor Vincent Janik.
He also explained how it’s impossible to tell from this study if mammals could ever learn how to speak like humans. “We would have to investigate whether they are able to label objects vocally, which is a key requirement for actually talking about things.” So seals may soon learn how to sing some Beyoncé, but they won’t be able to know what the lyrics mean, which is the basis of communication.