It is rare that our imagination syncs up with science, so we are particularly psyched to learn of new research suggesting that sperm whales, when they click at each other, "announce themselves with discrete personal identifier[s]." Yes! That's right: Sperm whales have names.
Or, they might have names. Scientists still in a sort of preliminary, speculative phase here, but the "names" are essentially individual variations on a click sequence, or coda, known as "5R." All whales make 5R clicks, but scientists believe they've found evidence that the 5R coda has subtle timing differences in different whales, and those differences may function as identifiers—a way of saying, "This is Henrik talking." (Or whatever your whale is named! Alfonse, for example. Or Barbara!)
More research is needed, obviously, to answer the resulting questions. Is this, in fact, the function of this coda? How sophisticated is the identification system? Do some whales have prettier names than others? Which whale is most annoying whale to talk to? Which whale is the biggest gossip? Do whales throw surprise parties for one another where they pretend to be all "let's just hang out tonight instead of going out" but then all their friends are there? Which blogs do sperm whales like? What if a sperm whale and a blogger became friends? Would the whale tell him all of the secrets of the ocean? And they could have private jokes together? Yes, there are many science questions to answer, here, and it is important that scientists let us know ASAP what the answers are.
[Wired;image via AP]