Burping Bioacoustics

Science Friday

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You’ve heard the plaintive meow of a cat and the guttural growl of a lion. Ever wonder why those two felines sound so different?

Bioacoustics is the study of the relationship between living things and sound. This includes animal sound production, transmission, and reception. Animal sounds are recorded in the field or in the laboratory with microphones (in air) and hydrophones (in water). These devices pick up sound vibrations and convert them to electrical signals. These electrical signals are recorded, then analyzed using computer software. By studying animal sounds as they relate to animal behavior, anatomy, and physiology, scientists can use acoustics to answer broader questions about animal ecology and evolution.

In this activity, you will investigate how height and gender affect the acoustic signals of some of the most unusual sounds a human can make—burps!


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