Alligators Sing! (But Not to Attract Mates)

Chinese alligators like a good sing-a-long, but they don't worry about carrying a tune. They also don't much care what the opposite sex thinks of the song choice, according to a story on National Geographic News.


Researchers with the Chinese Academy of Sciences ran some tests to see whether alligator "songs"–it's really more like sustained, extremely loud croaking, which the researchers compare the sound to thunder–attracted mates to the singer. Surprisingly, it didn't work quite that way.

More story and a video of singing alligators after the jump!

The researchers had expected females to draw closer to the speaker that was playing recordings of males. Surprisingly, though, males and females reacted the same way to the calls of either gender. All the alligators stayed put, and about 75 percent of the alligators joined the recorded song. This response suggests that alligators don't sing to compete for prospective mates, the study says.

And yet, the alligators do seem to sing more during mating season. So far, the best guess is that the songs are really a way of saying,"Hey, I'm an alligator, too. And I'm over here!" Which, in the context of mating, is just the time-honored tradition of hoping the opposite sex notices that you exist.

Image courtesy Flickr user wwarby, via CC.