03/06/2020

Name That Call: Test Your Animal Sound Trivia

6:22 minutes

a gif of google earth zooming in into the ocean on a whale
Play our quiz on Google Earth! Credit: Google Earth

Can you differentiate the cry of an Antarctic Weddell seal from the song of an emperor penguin? How about the bellows of a howler monkey from a warthog’s rumbling roar? The animal kingdom is filled with diverse calls and sounds, and for World Wildlife Day earlier this week on Tuesday, we curated them—in a quiz. SciFri’s digital producer Daniel Peterschmidt teamed up with Google Earth to create an interactive quiz that hops you around the world and highlights the many (sometimes surprising) sounds that species make. Daniel challenges Ira to an animal sound showdown.

Test your knowledge and explore the wide world of screeches, howls, and growls with the Science Friday Google Earth Animal Sound Quiz!


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Segment Guests

Daniel Peterschmidt

Daniel Peterschmidt is a digital producer and composes music for Science Friday’s podcasts, including Science Diction and Undiscovered. Their D&D character is a clumsy bard named Chip Chap Chopman.

Segment Transcript

IRA FLATOW: Case you missed it, this Tuesday was World Wildlife Day. And we know you can’t pass up a good, charismatic creature story. But how good are you at identifying the sound of your favorite animal? To test your knowledge, we’ve put together an interactive animal sound quiz that you can play. It’s up on our website at sciencefriday.com/animalquiz. Sci Fri Digital Producer Daniel Peterschmidt and quiz creator is here to talk about our Google Earth animal sound quiz. He’s going to test my recall skills.

Sorry, he’s joining us by Skype. Hi, Daniel.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Hey, Ira. How’s it going?

IRA FLATOW: OK, let’s talk about– why animal sounds? How did you come up with this idea?

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah so the idea came from our Events Producer, Diana Montano, who made a version of this for our last Sci Fri trivia night, which you co-hosted. You were there.

IRA FLATOW: Yeah, it was great.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, so animals have an incredible diversity in how they look, but they also have an incredible diversity in how they sound, and how they look might not match up what they’re call is. So we made a quiz to see if you can match that animal sound with an animal.

IRA FLATOW: And you built this as part of Google Earth’s Voyager platform. Can you describe how you built it, and what’s the quiz like?

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, so Voyager is this editorial platform in Google Earth, and they work with different publishers to make these cool sciencey interactive stories using their 3D imagery in Street View. And we have another cool project we did with them where we made a tour of NASA’s launch pad at Cape Canaveral. But with this animal sounds quiz, we picked the animals from all over the world. So you’ll be hopping around the globe a lot in this. And it takes you– when you guess it correctly or incorrectly, it takes you to their habitat.

We tried to find these animals in Street View. So I was just googling bald eagle in Street View. And only I found a few. And the bald eagle that we ended up going with was from a zoo in Germany. I found a hyena, but it was off in the distance. But it is there. Stuff like the katydid, which is this small green insect– it’s hard to find those since they’re so small. But we did our best.

IRA FLATOW: All right, I’m going to get ready by telling everybody I’m Ira Flatow. This is Science Friday from WNYC Studios. I am ready for the short version. Let’s play a little short version of the quiz right now. Go for it.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: OK. Yeah, so this first animal sounds like a synthesizer or a Gameboy. It does not sound organic at all. I know I’m joining by Skype, but I promise this isn’t those loopy sounds that plays when you’re connecting with someone.

[LAUGHTER]

So I’ll play it and give you a multiple choice guess after it plays.

IRA FLATOW: All right, let’s play clip number one.

[WEDDELL SEAL CALLING]

OK, Daniel.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: OK. So is that A, a giant golden-crowned flying fox bat, B, is it a Baffin Bay narwhal, C, Weddell seal, or is that a clip from Pink Floyd’s album, Animals?

IRA FLATOW: You know, you could not have picked a better sound for my first sound, because I know exactly what that is. I thought you took it off of my cassette tape that I took. When I was in Antarctica 1979 I watched people investigating Weddell seals under the ice with a microphone. They stuck it down in the water, and that is the exact sound the Weddell seal makes, so.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, you got it.

IRA FLATOW: C, ding! Number three.

[LAUGHTER]

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, C is correct. All right, I’m not going to give you multiple choice for this next one.

IRA FLATOW: OK.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: But this next one is a bird, and can you guess which bird makes this call?

[BIRD CAWING]

IRA FLATOW: Wow, I’m thinking of my bird feeder in my backyard. And I’m thinking of three or four birds. And one of my favorite is a nuthatch. So I know it’s not, but I’m going to guess it anyhow.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, that’s a good guess. You probably wouldn’t find this bird in your backyard. This is actually the sound the bald eagle makes.

IRA FLATOW: No kidding?

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, so that sound you hear in movies and stuff, that’s usually a red-tailed hawk or something like that. You know the fearsome caw or screech? I was looking for these sounds on YouTube, but I was looking in the comments and someone said in the comments like, “And this is why you don’t hear these sounds.” Why you don’t hear the bald eagle sound in movies.

IRA FLATOW: I’m calling Stephen Colbert right up and telling him to get rid of that.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, I know.

[LAUGHTER]

IRA FLATOW: All right, you have another sound for us?

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, let’s go for it.

IRA FLATOW: Go for it. You don’t. Oh, well that’s it. Two sounds.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: All right, well I can imitate the sound for you if you want.

IRA FLATOW: Yeah, I would. Go ahead.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: OK, so sounds something like this– [VOCALIZATION]

[LAUGHTER]

–and just going back and forth like that.

IRA FLATOW: One more time.

– [LAUGHTER] [VOCALIZATION]

IRA FLATOW: It’s an animal in the wild, huh? You stepped on your catch tail.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: You’re onto it.

IRA FLATOW: Oh, come on.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: So, yeah no. It’s called a Canadian lynx.

IRA FLATOW: Ooo.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: And they sound not dissimilar to humans if they try to make that sound. But they make that sound, so that– they have this big teeth and big claws. And instead of getting in fights they just yell at each other like humans.

IRA FLATOW: So how many sounds do you have up there on the website?

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, so we have nine of them. And we have birds, mammals, fish, everything. We got it all.

IRA FLATOW: And it’s up on our website. And what’s the address? sciencefriday.com/

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Animal quiz.

IRA FLATOW: Animal quiz. You must have had a lot of fun doing this, Daniel.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun listening to the first drafts and hearing the sounds that Google picked. And it was great.

IRA FLATOW: OK, well we’ll have you on for the next round. Thank you. Thanks a lot for this. It’s Daniel Peterschmidt a Sci Fri Digital Producer and creator of our Google Earth animal sound quiz. Thank you, Daniel.

DANIEL PETERSCHMIDT: Great talking to you, Ira.

IRA FLATOW: And you can play it. As he says, it’s up on our website at sciencefriday.com/animalquiz.

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About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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