AUSTRALIAN MUSK DUCK LEARNED HOW TO SAY “YOU BLOODY FOOL,” SHOCKS SCIENTISTS
So human speech is fairly unique. But a wide variety of animals communicate using vocalizations, and we even understand some of them, to a degree. But we still tend to assume that animals can’t be taught to speak in human words. And while we are well familiar with parakeets and some parrots learning how to, um, parrot some words back to us, now we have ducks, too? Well, a musk duck, singular. But it’s still pretty impressive. The Australian duck now knows how to say the phrase, “You bloody fool.” I’m pretty sure this reminds me of a NSFW joke, which I can’t relate here.
DECADES OLD RECORDINGS OF TALKING MUSK DUCK FOUND ALMOST BY CHANCE
The duck’s name is Ripper (of course). He lives in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Ripper has some skills mimicking sounds beyond this singular phrase. Like, its enclosure’s door slamming and the like. Some of his duck friends can’t say You Bloody Fool yet, but they’ve copied a bird keeper’s cough, and sounds from a nearby pony. But here’s where the story gets a little strange. Because this is not new news by any means. A now retired researcher, Peter Fullagar, made these recordings decades ago. They just resurfaced because of a Professor at the Netherlands, Carel ten Cate.
“YOU BLOODY FOOL” TALKING DUCK DISCOVERY UPENDS AVIAN VOCALIZATION EVOLUTION
At first, he thought duck vocalizations were a total hoax. But then he heard the recordings and realized that these old recordings will change our understanding of the evolution of vocal language in birds. Now that we know about Ripper saying You Bloody Fool back in the 1990’s, we know that the vocalization mimicking skill may evolve independently in separate groups of birds. In other words, it’s a skill that happens spontaneously in different places. Think of it this way; it’s possible that early man started talking in multiple places, in different groups, with no contact between them. It’s not a great comparison, but you get the point.
Otherwise, you’re a bloody fool, sic.