Alligator inhales helium in the name of science [Video]

This is what an alligator on helium sounds like

Scientists had the reptile inhale the air

as part of an experiment

to understand how they communicate

The outcome?

Something between a grunt and a belch

(SOUNDBITE) (English) TECUMSEH FITCH, CO-AUTHOR OF STUDY “A CHINESE ALLIGATOR IN HELIOX: FORMANT FREQUENCIES IN A CROCODILIAN,” SAYING:

“Our question was whether alligators have vocal tract resonances like human speech. The key is that sound travels faster in helium. This makes the air passages seem shorter, making the resonances higher. So, if you breathe helium and the frequencies shift upward, that shows that they’re resonances. The hard part is getting an alligator to breathe helium.”

Source: Journal of Experimental Biology

Alligator ‘bellows’ are well known

but the function of their vocalizations remains unclear

(SOUNDBITE) (English) STEPHAN REBER, CO-AUTHOR OF STUDY “A CHINESE ALLIGATOR IN HELIOX: FORMANT FREQUENCIES IN A CROCODILIAN”, SAYING:

(REBER INHALES HELIUM) “Our

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