1.17.2009

The Myth of the Singing Fish
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by Nobel prize winner Haldor Laxness

There is truth to the myth that some creatures of the sea can sing, such as fish, so there is more to the meme than the fantabulous vocalist mermaids of Greek myth, the sirens. Two researchers, Roderick Suthers and Tobias Riede believe that singing originated in fish and gradually was adopted - and perfected - by birds.

"Babies go through several phases of learning before they fully speak such as babbling, one word, two words, etc. -- and so do songbirds," Riede told Discovery News.

Riede, a researcher at the National Center for Voice and Speech, explained that young songbirds also "babble," producing sub-songs, before they create more varied "plastic" songs and then graduate to bird crooning perfection with their adult songs.

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