IELTS Reading Answers – What Do Whales Feel?
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Several research studies have shown that cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) can feel empathy. Specifically, they can experience feelings like grief for their deceased offspring.
While many people think of whales as large animals that filter tiny plankton from the water with their baleen-fringed upper jaws, they also have excellent eyesight. They are able to see in dim light, and their field of vision is quite broad, although they do not have binocular vision like humans. They have to angle their heads in order to view a specific area of the water.
They can also hear well underwater. They emit short ultrasonic clicks to search for prey and listen for the returning echoes. They are able to tell the size and location of the prey from the echo streams. These sounds are interpreted in an area of the brain that is very different from the human brain. Dolphins can also eavesdrop on the echolocation clicks of other dolphins to determine where they are and what they are looking at.
In addition, whales have a sense of touch. They often stroke or touch each other, and this may help maintain order within their groups. They are also known to play with plants, shells, and other objects for fun. While a sense of touch may seem insignificant, it is essential for social behavior. It is also thought to be involved in mating rituals in some species.
Most scientists agree that cetaceans, which include dolphins and sperm whales, feel emotions. They can imitate sounds and behaviors, and they are capable of creating sentences and solving abstract problems. They have even shown self-awareness, such as recognizing themselves in a mirror.
It is hard to prove whether whales feel, but there is a lot of evidence that they do. Many scientists believe that they have a variety of emotions, including love, fear, and anger. They can even get sad and depressed. They can also be afraid of other animals, and some even die from a broken heart.
Since whales left the land and took to the seas millions of years ago, their survival has depended on evolving ear structures that are specialized for underwater hearing. The dark abyss limits their sight, and water dilutes scent, but sound travels much more quickly and covers greater distances in water than air, making it an essential tool for navigation, communication, feeding, socialization, and breeding.
Unlike humans, who can only hear sounds up to 20,000Hz, toothed whales have evolved an advanced acoustic sense called biological sonar. They emit a high-pitched sound that is beamed out into the environment from the melon – a globe of oily tissue in their foreheads – and then pick up the echoes as they bounce off objects in the water. This allows them to figure out not just where an object is but its shape, size, and texture as well.
Scientists believe that olfaction may not work very well in the sea because odors travel too slowly in water, and cetaceans move too quickly to use this sense effectively. However, they do have taste buds, although they seem to be atrophied. The salt in their diet helps them distinguish water masses.
Toothed whales are masters of the higher frequencies – the whistles and clicks that can pinpoint prey – while baleen whales rule the lower registers with rumbling moans and growls. Their low-frequency calls can travel huge distances – humpback songs are known to be heard across thousands of miles.
The sense of touch is also influential in whales, particularly in males during the mating season. The stroking and touching of whales by other whales is often seen during these rituals and is thought to play an essential role in maintaining social order and regulating the mating process.
Although whales have a well-developed sense of smell, they do not have a good sense of taste. This is because they spend most of their time in a sea of salt water and eat food that is permeated by the salt. However, some studies have shown that whales and dolphins can distinguish between different types of fish and show preferences in this regard when fed at zoological parks.
The loss of the sense of taste probably occurred 53 million years ago when cetaceans’ ancestors began living in the water. This change is likely related to the fact that whales swallow their prey whole, and they do not need to perceive the flavor released by chewing. It is also possible that mutations damaged the genes governing this sense of taste, and they became “pseudogenes,” or a lingering shell of a trait that was lost.
In addition to a poor sense of taste, whales have a weak visual ability. Their eyes are exposed to salt water and have fewer pigment cells than the human eye, which means that they can’t see blue light. Despite this, whales can still see fine detail in their habitat and can track airborne fish.
Although they do not have a strong sense of taste, whales have a tongue that helps them break apart and control their food before swallowing it. This is important because the majority of their diet consists of krill, which is not easily broken down by teeth. Moreover, the tongue is necessary for helping them push the food to the back of their throats so they can swallow it.
Whales have a powerful sense of touch. Captive trainers report that cetaceans respond to stroking and touching, especially around the mouth. They also have a susceptible area on the head near their blowholes. This sensitivity helps them detect when the water surface rises enough to breathe. Whales also have a vomeronasal organ that allows them to smell pheromones and other chemicals, like the scents of other whales.
It is a common belief that whales have a weak sense of smell, but that’s not true. The molecules that make up scent move more slowly in the water than they do in the air, so they are less effective beneath the ocean. In addition, whales have a particular smell receptor at the base of their tongues that they can use to locate food in muddy waters or when the weather is stormy.
Scientists have found that whales are social creatures with a sense of empathy and compassion for others. They have even been shown to be able to recognize faces and other visual cues. Moreover, they can communicate with other species using sound, which is similar to human speech. This is possible thanks to spindle cells, which are part of the brain’s frontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex. These cells help humans process emotions and encourage the development of social interaction.
Although whales are generally friendly toward humans, it is essential to keep in mind that they can be aggressive if their calf is threatened. Additionally, swimming with whales is not a natural behavior and can put both you and the whale at risk. In addition, whales may carry diseases that could be harmful to humans.
The position of the eyes restricts their field of vision in baleen whales, which suggests they do not have stereoscopic vision. Nonetheless, they can see relatively well underwater, and some researchers have found that their sight is as keen in water as it is in air.
Like many mammals, whales have a larynx. The unique larynx in a baleen whale connects directly to an expandable sac inside the throat, which allows them to make sounds that can travel thousands of kilometers. This system is the primary mechanism by which these creatures communicate.
They also have a unique ability to see in the dark. The muscles that close their blowholes stay tensed when they dive, which helps them focus their vision in the dim light. While terrestrial animals rely on the property of refraction to create a focused image on their retina, whales use their specialized larynx to amplify and direct sound waves into the eye and skull.
Whales also have a sense of touch. Scientists have found that dolphins and whales often rub or touch each other, and this contact may be significant in their courtship and mating rituals. The act of touching or stroking can also help to maintain order in their groups.
While it may seem strange for a creature to grieve, scientists have found that whales can and do experience emotions. They have even observed some whales showing signs of mourning, including returning to the site of their dead. Although some people have doubted the existence of whales’ feelings, the fact that they can grieve is a testament to their advanced cognitive abilities and emotional complexity. In addition, many people have seen whales show affection towards humans, and this has led some to believe that whales feel compassion or love for human beings.