Small toothed whales of the family Phocoenidae and delphinid genus Cephalorhynchus produce long-duration, narrowband biosonar clicks above 100 kHz, that might be seen as an adaptation for short range echolocation in shallow water. This paper presents data showing that the distantly related, and larger pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps (Kogiidae), that is a deep-diving, cephalopod-eating toothed whale, produce narrow-banded high frequency (NBHF) clicks identical to those of Phocoena and Cephalorhynchus (f0 = 130 kHz, Q3dB>10, duration > 80 msec). Thus, NBHF biosonarsignals have evolved on three independent occasions in the odontocete suborder, but the apparent functional convergence does not relate to anatomical or niche similarity. Rather, it is suggested that a biosonar strategy adapting to a minimum in ocean ambient noise above 100 kHz in concert with high Q auditory filters have led to convergent evolution of the NBHF biosonar clicks. Since these biosonar signals carry all their energy at frequencies above the upper hearing limit of the killer whale Orcinus orca, predator avoidance may also have been a evolutionary shaping factor of the sonar signals from these non-whistling odontocetes.
Kogia, echolocation, biosonar, sound production, click
P.T. Madsen, D.A. Carder, K. Bedholm & S.H. Ridgway (2005). Porpoise clicks from a sperm whale nose - convergent evolution of 130 kHz pulses in toothed whale sonars? Bioacoustics 15(2): 195-206