What would it be like, as Dr Dolittle famously sang, if we could talk to the animals? An award-winning research institute in North Carolina (USA), Fauna Communications, has been capturing headlines in its pursuit of the answers.
With a revolutionary new computer program and its huge database of animal vocalizations, the Fauna Communications group, a non-profit research institute, is exploring what animals say to each other.
Computer and recording technology has come so far that Fauna can actually test whether some animals, maybe all, use grammatical structures.
Previous research could only be based on observation: but with the use of mathematics and complex new equipment to perform empirical analysis, their studies are breaking new ground. Already, theyve discovered that giraffes, tigers and rhinoceros can communicate infrasonically below our hearing range.
This year they made the fascinating discovery that a cats purr may be able to heal bone fractures, increase bone density and control pain.
Put a cat and a bunch of broken bones in the same room some veterinary schools joke, and the bones will heal. Only two years ago scientists discovered that vibrations between 20-140 Hz (at low db) are anabolic for bone growth and will also help to heal fractures, mend torn muscles and ligaments, reduce swelling, and relieve pain. Fauna have found that a cats purr not only matches this vibration, but its dominant frequencies are 25 and 50 Hz - the optimum frequencies for bone growth and fracture healing. All cats, including larger ones such as pumas, ocelots and lions, have further sets of strong harmonics at the exact hertz (number of cycles per second) that generate muscle strength, increase joint mobility and provide therapeutic pain relief.
This might explain why cats seem to have nine lives, or how in a Veterinary Association survey of cats that had plummeted from high-rise flats, 90% survived including one that fell 45 floors! It might also explain why cats will purr even when traumatized or severely injured, and when giving birth.
The healing implications for sick humans are exciting, and the fact that many of the new sound healing therapies incorporate toning and overtoning is an interesting footnote. Scientists are now researching whether sound and vibration therapy could halt osteoporosis, or renew bone growth in post-menopausal women and the elderly. Were bound to learn fantastic things if we are able to genuinely communicate with another intelligent species, says the Institute. We also hope to provide the world with a whole new generation of non-invasive, simple and affordable healing methods.
Ultimately, through its work with language structure, the Research Institute hopes to create common languages between humans and animals. This would offer a unique learning opportunity and, the team hopes, foster greater respect for the animal kingdom. Humans tend to equate communication with intelligence perhaps the public would do more to protect these creatures if they consider them knowing.