the team had to listen to 745 songs in total from six whale populations across the South Pacific over the 11-year period. The researchers identified 11 distinctly different styles (audio). Sometimes the "hit song" contained snippets from previous seasons, sometimes it was entirely revolutionary. But at any given time and place, there was only one song.And like us, hits come and go:
What's more, the popular song switched incredibly rapidly; it took only 2 to 3 months for whales in a given region to entirely change their tune, the team reports online today in Current Biology.Also like us, it's all about the ladies and all about the remix (earlier):
For male whales, singing is known to be a mating behavior, and Garland calls the results a "weird interaction of constrained novelty" where each whale wants to one-up the whale next to it but still feels pressure to conform enough that it doesn't stand out as an oddball.But unlike us, their stars are too big to be studied:
his is extremely difficult to do, as humpbacks are too large to be put in captivity for study, and no good methods for tracking individual mating patterns exist.