The Atlantic

The Disturbing Sound of a Human Voice

Hearing people talk can terrify even top predators such as mountain lions, with consequences that ripple through entire ecosystems.
Source: Howard Yanes / Reuters

In the summer of 2017, the mountain lions, bobcats, and other residents of the Santa Cruz Mountains were treated to the dulcet tones of the ecologist Justin Suraci and his friends, reading poetry. Some of the animals became jittery. Others stopped eating. A few fled in fear.

Suraci, who’s based at the University of California at Santa Cruz, wasn’t there to see their reactions. He and his colleagues had strung up a set of speakers that would regularly play recordings of human speech in an area where people seldom venture. that, the quality of the poetry aside, that terrifies even the carnivores that themselves incite terror.

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