Sussex boffins discover why koalas have such deep voices

The Argus: Sussex boffins discover why koalas have such deep voices (Pic: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) Sussex boffins discover why koalas have such deep voices (Pic: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Sussex academics have discovered why koala bears have such low voices.

Dr Benjamin Charlton and Dr David Reby reporting in journal Current Biology, revealed koalas’ low-pitched voice was explained by the animal’s voice box – larynx – being unique.

The pitch of male koalas’ mating calls is about 20 times lower than it should be, given the Australian marsupial’s relatively small size, they revealed.

“We have discovered that koalas possess an extra pair of vocal folds that are located outside the larynx, where the oral and nasal cavities connect,” says Dr Charlton.

“We also demonstrated that koalas use these additional vocal folds to produce their extremely low-pitched mating calls.”

The koala’s bellow calls are produced as a continuous series of sounds on inhalation and exhalation, similar to a donkey’s braying, Dr Charlton said. On inhalation, koala bellows sound a bit like snoring. As the animals exhale, the sound is more reminiscent of belching.

Dr Reby added: “To our knowledge, the only other example of a specialised sound-producing organ in mammals that is independent of the larynx are the phonic lips that toothed whales use to generate echolocation clicks.”

Comments (7)

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10:13am Mon 9 Dec 13

wm2694 says...

"Boffins"...really..
?
"Boffins"...really.. ? wm2694

10:35am Mon 9 Dec 13

The Prophet of Doom says...

Perhaps they could be commissioned to find out why the Council spouts such vacuous rhetoric?
Perhaps they could be commissioned to find out why the Council spouts such vacuous rhetoric? The Prophet of Doom

10:58am Mon 9 Dec 13

leach1527 says...

The Oxford Dictionary definition of "voice" is
"the sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song"

I therefore look forward to being treated to a koala giving a speech or singing me a song
The Oxford Dictionary definition of "voice" is "the sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song" I therefore look forward to being treated to a koala giving a speech or singing me a song leach1527

12:24pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Anna Roberts says...

leach1527 wrote:
The Oxford Dictionary definition of "voice" is
"the sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song"

I therefore look forward to being treated to a koala giving a speech or singing me a song
I did sort of agree with this, but I was giggling while writing it.
[quote][p][bold]leach1527[/bold] wrote: The Oxford Dictionary definition of "voice" is "the sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song" I therefore look forward to being treated to a koala giving a speech or singing me a song[/p][/quote]I did sort of agree with this, but I was giggling while writing it. Anna Roberts

12:24pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Anna Roberts says...

leach1527 wrote:
The Oxford Dictionary definition of "voice" is
"the sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song"

I therefore look forward to being treated to a koala giving a speech or singing me a song
I did sort of agree with this, but I was giggling while writing it.
[quote][p][bold]leach1527[/bold] wrote: The Oxford Dictionary definition of "voice" is "the sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song" I therefore look forward to being treated to a koala giving a speech or singing me a song[/p][/quote]I did sort of agree with this, but I was giggling while writing it. Anna Roberts

12:43pm Mon 9 Dec 13

All 9 of me says...

A man in a cinema notices what looks like a koala sitting next to him. "Are you a koala?" asked the man, surprised.
"Yes."
"What are you doing at the movies?" The koala replied,
"Well, I liked the book."
A man in a cinema notices what looks like a koala sitting next to him. "Are you a koala?" asked the man, surprised. "Yes." "What are you doing at the movies?" The koala replied, "Well, I liked the book." All 9 of me

2:28pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Dingbat99 says...

Dr Charlton said. On inhalation, koala bellows sound a bit like snoring. As the animals exhale, the sound is more reminiscent of belching.

I can see how a female koala would find that extremely sexy!!!
Dr Charlton said. On inhalation, koala bellows sound a bit like snoring. As the animals exhale, the sound is more reminiscent of belching. I can see how a female koala would find that extremely sexy!!! Dingbat99

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