A study published in Science has found that Zebra Finches change the songs they sing to their young while they’re still in their eggs, varying with temperature differences.
Under experimental conditions – during incubation some of the eggs were removed and not exposed to the parents warning songs (hearing different sounds), while the others were kept in the nest with their parents and heard the warning songs – the researchers found that those babies who hatched who hadn’t heard the warning song displayed growth, developmental and behavioural differences to those who had.
Taken from an article in Smithsonian –
“This acoustic signal is potentially being used to program the development of offspring,” says Kate Buchanan, an associate professor of animal ecology at Deakin University in Australia and the senior author of the new paper. “Hearing the call affects your rate of growth relative to the temperature that you experience.
“Animals have very subtle ways of inferring how the environment is likely to change, and (being able) to develop and adapt accordingly,” she added. “We’re only looking at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we recognize so far… It is quite paradigm-shifting.”
Alongside the interest this raises in an academic sense, regarding evolutionary theory, non-human psychology and zoosemiotics, this scientific research is valuable for environmentalists. An immediate reason for this is that it further calls into question what Derrick Jensen calls “human supremacism” in the great chain of being – the social hierarchy of civilisation that places God, “civilised” humans and the mega-technic above non-human animals, flora and indigenous “savage-primitives”.
We environmentalists and people who embrace feral-being all sing our songs about climate change and ecocide, in all manner of ways, in desperation and despair towards the horror as we witness this cultures onslaught. I invite you to now listen to the song of a mother Zebra Finch singing to her eggs.