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Sound Production in Aquatic Mammals
conservative in the case of sirenians. However, for whales, this transition resulted in great changes in the respiratory tract. Sound production abilities are highly divergent in cetaceans. Mysticetes generate low-frequency sounds with a highly modified larynx, whereas odontocetes generate high-frequency sounds with a highly modified nasal re- gion. This highlights an important step in the evolution of whales, indicating two vastly different trajectories for baleen and toothed whales. Perhaps the pressures to communicate, navigate, and find food in the open ocean allowed selection for respiratory tract traits that enhanced underwater sound production and transmission. The divergence into opposite ends of the frequency spectrum highlights how these two taxa, although related, pursued very different niches for their acoustic abilities.
Joy S. Reidenberg is a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Si- nai, New York, and adjunct professor at the New York College of Podiatric Med- icine. She attended Cornell University (BA, 1983) and Mount Sinai’s Gradu- ate Program in Biomedical Sciences (MPhil, 1986; PhD, 1988). She teaches
medical/graduate students (anatomy, embryology, histology, imaging). Her research focuses on the comparative anatomy of animals adapted to environmental extremes (particularly marine mammals). Reidenberg has been featured in many international science and educational television documenta- ries (e.g., PBS: Inside Nature’s Giants, Sex in the Wild), many interviews (e.g., Nature, New York Times-Science Times), and TED talks.
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