Science News, 2/9/21

“Soda” or “pop?” “Creek” or “crik?” “Sneakers” or “tennis shoes?”

“Cheep” or “chirp?”

It turns out humans aren’t the only ones who have different ways of saying things in different areas. We’ve known for some time that animals like songbirds and whales also have dialects. Turns out naked mole rats do too.

Food is scarce where naked mole rats live, and competition for it is fierce. So you’d better know your colony-mate from a wily intruder. Deep underground, recognizing by sight is a non-starter. And the rats are already a chatty group, so telling each other apart by dialect is natural.

Turns out the queen, who is already in control of the colony, also appears to control the colony’s “voice.” And young rats adopted into a colony learn the new dialect, but the older they are, the more of an accent they’ll have.

To learn more, check out this article from Science News or this one from Smithsonian Magazine.

You’re Invited! Words & Pictures 2020

Happy autumn! Rain has returned the Pacific Northwest, and I couldn’t be happier about that. The leaves are turning and migrating birds are stopping in our backyard for a quick snack. These are tumultuous times, and I hope you are taking time to notice the nature around you and to take care of yourself.

I’m excited to announce that the local author/illustrator festival I help coordinate is going virtual this year. This means that anyone, no matter how far away you are from my library, can join in the fun.

The Words and Pictures Festival 2020 takes place Saturday, October 10, from 10am to 6pm. Fonda Lee will be our keynote speaker (I am SO excited to have her), and there will be author readings, educational presentations and panels, and children’s events throughout the day.

You can find details and register here. The complete schedule will be posted late this week.

I hope you can join us!