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Alligator on Helium


In case you’ve already wondered what an alligator on helium sounds like – here’s your answer. And that result earned an international team of researchers an Ig Noble Prize. These prizes are for science and humanities that are intended to make you laugh – then think. What would be the point? Actually, alligators are surprisingly communicative to one another. But why add helium to their voice?

“Our question was whether alligators have vocal tract resonances like human speech,” said biologist Tecumseh Fitch, a member of the research team, who were from Austria, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland and U.S. “The hard part is getting an alligator to breathe helium.” According to the researchers’ paper published in Experimental Biology, “Because birds and crocodilians share a common ancestor with all dinosaurs, a better understanding of their vocal production systems may also provide insight into the communication of extinct Archosaurians.”

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