Unborn Crocs Chatter While Still in the Egg

In a new discovery published in the current issue of the science affairs journal Current Biology , new research reveals that unborn baby crocodiles begin communicating to each other and their mothers moments before they are born.

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He can talk. He can talk. He can talk....I CAN SINNNNNNNG!!!

It is believed that the noises, described as "umph, umph, umph," help to syncronize the hatch and signal to the mother that it's time to start preparing for her brood's emergence in the big bad world.

Scientists Amelie Vergne and Nicolas Mathevon of the French Universite Jean Monnet discovered the chatter and decided to test its effect. They...

...played a recording of the noise to a group of ready to hatch eggs and played random noises to another. The group subjected to the chatter all hatched within ten minutes of hearing the sound, compared to over five hours for the control group.

Likewise, mother crocodiles who heard the noises immediately began digging up their eggs, even when the eggs were secretly replaced with speakers. Just imagine the surprise on that expectant mom's face when she realizes that her babies aren't where she left them! It's kind of like those videos that they're always showing on planes of Europeans pulling zany pranks on each other on hidden camera...."Just for Laughs."

Vergne and Mathevon write in the study, "With crocodile juveniles being highly susceptible to predation, both hatching synchrony and maternal assistance certainly increase the fitness of newborns." That statement's a lot funnier if you say it with a really thick French accent.

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Baby geese communicate with their parents the day they hatch from inside the egg. They can learn quite a few different signals in that time. I have actually heard a duck peeping inside his shell. That was my goose "Duck Duck." He imprinted on me. (He used to run after my car as I left the driveway, trying to become airborne so he could follow me.) Unfortunately all I knew was the peep-peep-peep-peep-PEEEEP call.

It is actually fascinating to HEAR that muffled peeping sound from within. There are dozens of different warnings, greetings and other communications that geese express. When they find food, when they are mad, when there is danger, when they are curious, when they are happy, there is a full range of calls and signals. There's even this whisper-peeping when they want to know what I'm up to and they are curious about something. Each of my geese have a very different greeting honk too. I can tell who's talking to me, or who is upset. But that is more than you all wanted to know....(shutting up now.)

This takes me back to the days when I played foster mom to baby alligators, but the pre-hatching chirps of crocodilians aren't exactly a new discovery. These vocalizations were already well known when I was a zookeeper back in the 1970s. They had been observed to stimulate the female to open the nest (even as recordings) and were suspected of synchronizing hatching as well. This is apparently the first systematic testing of the chirps' presumed functions, though.

Oh Come on, this has got to be your lamest post EVER! Everyone who has ever met a crocodile or found a nest of eggs, or raised the beasts knows that they chatter - and so do birds - is some other hopeless scientist going to publish that obvious fact and get a PhD? Man people expect recognition for stating the obvious!

Geez, Paula Kahumba, give A&B some credit; I haven't ever met a crocodile or found a nest of chattering critters, so this was interesting news to me. Old news is new news sometimes...