Ig® Nobel Prize goes to… “A Chinese alligator in heliox: formant frequencies in a crocodilian”

Prof. Takeshi Nishimura from the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University (Strategic Partner University of the University of Vienna) and Prof. Fitch from the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna are part of a group of researchers who won this year’s Ig® Nobel Prize.

For achievements that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK

Every year, selected researchers receive the Ig® Nobel Prize at Harvard University. A jury selects renowned research projects, which stimulate thought, but do this in a bit bizarre way. This goes in line with the organizers' slogan: “For achievements that first make people laugh then make them think”. Due to the pandemic, this year’s Gala took place online and is available to the public:

A Chinese alligator in Heliox

With the article “A Chinese alligator in heliox: formant frequencies in a crocodilian”, the researchers tested how a Chinese alligator bellows in an airtight chamber and how changes occur when inhaling either normal air or heliox (helium/oxygen mixture).

The result of the experiment shows: “Although heliox allows normal respiration, it alters the formant distribution of the sound spectrum. An acoustic analysis of the calls showed that the source signal components remained constant under both conditions, but an upward shift of high-energy frequency bands was observed in heliox”.