It's no secret that the ladies love a deep voice. Barry White's rise to fame is proof of that. However, the Prince of Pillow Talk may not be as popular with deer, especially bucks during mating season.
That's at least according to a study recently published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, which details how male fallow deer in Petworth Park in West Sussex responded with extraordinary aggression or even fear when hearing especially low-pitched calls of other bucks.
"Deep calls help to beat other males in the quest for mates, and over generations competition between males for mates has driven the evolution of deeper, lower pitched and longer calls," researcher Ben Pitcher explained in a recent statement. "Just like humans, fallow bucks can listen to the sounds of a rival's voice and assess if they are dominant or pose a threat." (Scroll to read on...)
According to the study, the later into a rutting season it gets for these fallow deer, the more impressive or intimidating a deep call can be. That's because bucks pull their larynx towards their chest when they call, lengthening their vocal tract and deepening their calls. As the animals become tired from competing for mates their calls become shorter and higher frequency, meaning the deepest calls at any one time are coming from the largest and most tenacious of bucks.
"The differences in call are subtle but they clearly mean a lot to the bucks that hear them," added Alan McElligott, a researcher with Queen Mary University of London. "Bucks get into a lot of confrontations during the annual rut and being able to tell from a distance how big and how fresh another buck is might help them avoid being on the end of an unnecessary beating."
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