The Sound of Fear

Friday May 7th, 2010

A lecture by Daniel T. Blumstein
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and The Institute of the
Environment, UCLA

Watch a recording of this event

What is it that makes screams scary? Why do animals scream? Why do they emit other sorts of alarm vocalizations? An individual might help others by alarm calling or screaming, but these sounds also increase the screamer’s risk of predation. The opposing benefits and costs of screaming create an evolutionary paradox. Daniel Blumstein will address this evolutionary paradox by describing insights from over two decades of studying marmots – large, mostly-alpine, ground squirrels – throughout the northern hemisphere. He will talk both about the evolution and function of alarm calls and end with a discussion of similarities among species, including humans, in the structure of fear screams and other scary and arousing sounds and how composers and audio engineers seemingly capitalize on this when designing movie soundtracks.