Body mass and vocal pitch don’t always match. Male koalas have deep, rumbling vocalizations, an unexpectedly low sound that might normally be associated with wild boars or a huge braying beast the size of an elephant instead of a small herbivore. And now we know why…
In a study published in the journal Current Biology, scientists describe a second, much larger pair of vocal folds located outside of the larynx that creates the unique mating sound. From National Geographic (which has a great “animal body mass to vocal pitch” chart):
Koala bellows have a pitch about 20 times lower than they should be given the animals’ size… Male koala bellows, for instance, are so fearsome that sound designers used recordings of them to create the T. rex roars in the movie Jurassic Park…
Study co-author Benjamin Charlton, of the University of Sussex in the U.K., explained in a statement that during inhalation, koala bellows sound like snoring, and during exhalation, they sound more like belching.
The updated video above is of Tekin, a koala male at the Dallas Zoo. He’s in a “bellowing contest with neighboring male koala, Gummy.”
In the archives: more koala videos.
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