Researchers in the US have been shocked to discover a beluga whale whose vocalisations were remarkably close to human speech. While dolphins have been taught to mimic the pattern and durations of sounds in human speech, no animal has spontaneously tried such mimicry.
But researchers heard a nine-year-old whale named NOC make sounds octaves below normal, in clipped bursts. They then rewarded NOC for the speech-like sounds to teach him to make them on command and fitted him with a pressure transducer within his nasal cavity, where sounds are produced, to monitor just what was going on.
Source BBC, via Zack Denfeld