Vocal learning  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Vocal learning is the ability to modify acoustic and syntactic sounds, acquire new sounds via imitation, and produce vocalizations. “Vocalizations” in this case refers only to sounds generated by the vocal organ (mammalian larynx or avian syrinx) as opposed to by the lips, teeth, and tongue, which require substantially less motor control. A rare trait, vocal learning is a critical substrate for spoken language and has only been detected in eight animal groups despite the wide array of vocalizing species; these include humans, bats, cetaceans, pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), elephants, and three distantly related bird groups including songbirds, parrots, and hummingbirds. Vocal learning is distinct from auditory learning, or the ability to form memories of sounds heard, a relatively common trait which is present in all vertebrates tested. For example, dogs can be trained to understand the word "sit" even though the human word is not in its innate auditory repertoire (auditory learning). However, the dog cannot imitate and produce the word "sit" itself as vocal learners can.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Vocal learning" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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