'You Bloody Fool,' Says First Talking Duck Known to Science

Threety years ago Ripper, the duck, sounded like he had had enough. He repeated it repeatedly in a newly rediscovered recording.

Ripper, who was only 4 years old at that time, also managed to mimic the sound of a door closing. Researchers have published their findings in Philosophical Transac tions, which is being published this week by the Royal Society B.

Carel ten Cate (an ethologist) at the Institute of Biology Leiden, the Netherlands, and Peter Fullagar (a retired ornithologist), teamed up to unravel the incredible mimicking abilities of Ripper and his species. Below is the audio of Ripper being a bloody fool.

Ripper was a musk-duck, which is a species of waterfowl that is native to Australia. The Australian duck (Biziura Lobata) is a strange looking bird. Males are a bit weird because they have a smell gland on their backs (as their name implies). The most iconic feature of the duck is its jowly skin, which hangs below their bill and expands during mating displays. These recordings show that the bird can mimic human speech for the first time.

Gizmodo's ten Cate said in an email that we don't know the exact sound production or if the vocalization apparatus of this species is different than other ducks. Although certain structures in the body are important, the brain is more essential for imitating others. He said that areas must be capable of storing sound and using it for modeling birds' sounds.

Fullagar recorded the audio on a Sony Walkman cassette from July 1987. Ripper was a resident of a nature reserve in southwest Canberra during the 1980s. Both vocalizations were interpreted by the researchers as angry displays. However, there is no evidence that Ripper understood what they meant. You can hear his door slamming imitation below.

Unnamed, the other duck mimicked the sounds of Pacific black ducks. Fullagar and Ten Cate interviewed other musk duck rearers. They said that their ducks imitate the sounds of a pony's cough and snorts, and the high-pitched click of a turnstile.

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It is amazing that they do it spontaneously, said ten Cate. This is similar to songbirds that store songs from their own species at a young age, and then begin to reproduce them as adults.

Parrots are known for being able to imitate human speech. Myna birds from South America can also imitate human sounds. A group of gray parrots that encouraged each other to swear was separated by zookeepers from England last year.