Sounds of Nature

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There are several sounds that we can hear from nature. Animals do not make sounds only to find a mate or to announce their presence. Animals such as insects and elephants make use of sounds to communicate when it is safe, it’s already dark, there’s prey, or to make their presence known underwater or in a heavily forested area.

 Laurel Symes, a biologist from Dartmouth College studies crickets and finds out a lot about them. Cricket sounds are not only about letting their presence known; they also produce more sounds that are still incomprehensible and needs deciphering.

Scientists who study bioacoustics conducted several studies about how sounds are being produced in big environments. They recorded sounds that are produced by different trees, sounds from rivers and streams, the sound of rain from the 4 different seasons, and the sound of wind that hits the trees. They noted that the sounds significantly change every season. It is also important to be sensitive to different sounds and vibration. Vibration tells animals whether a predator or a prey is nearby.

Sound is everywhere. It is present at anytime and anywhere. Visual system is limited and it’s widely distributed unlike the auditory circuitry. That is why bats can fly perfectly fine at night. They are using the vibration and echoes around them to avoid large trees and other obstacles. Sounds also produce emotions. When we hear a loud scream, the brain tends to produce a flight or fight response.

The brain stores information that we previously heard. The brain tends to frequently seek mathematical rhythms because they sound beautiful. Pitches that have patterns are easy to memorize and they tend to capture people’s attention whether the people are paying attention or not. The voices of our loved ones, the sounds of nature such as birds and trees have their own rhythms and pitches that the brain can easily recognize. These familiar rhythms make us more comfortable compared to speaking to strangers or hearing new sounds. There are also unpleasant sounds that we are not comfortable hearing. The examples of these sounds are the scraping of a chair, or a blackboard or the screeching sound of the fingernails. These are sounds that can get stuck in the brain and many tend to avoid it.

Scientists also wonder if there are sounds that are produced intentionally beyond the solar system. If there are lives living outside the earth, then they may be able to produce sounds that we can recognize.

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