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Cornell Launches World’s Largest Animal Sound Site

April 10, 2013 | 7,841 views
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By Dr. Becker

A digital collection of thousands of animal sounds and sounds of nature are now online at Cornell University’s Macaulay Library.

The collection holds some of the oldest recordings as well as recordings of some of the world’s most rare species. It is thought to be the world’s largest natural sound archive. “In terms of speed and the breadth of material now accessible to anyone in the world, this is really revolutionary,” says audio curator Greg Budney.

150,000 Digital Audio Recordings of 9,000 Different Species

The sound archive took researchers over 12 years to compile and contains nearly 150,000 digital audio recordings, consumes 10 terabytes of data, and has a run time of over 7,500 hours.

Around 9,000 different species have been recorded, and while the emphasis has been on birds (Macaulay Library is part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology), the archive also includes sounds of many other species including primates, whales, elephants, and more.

According to Macaulay Library Director Mike Webster,

"Our audio collection is the largest and the oldest in the world. Now, it's also the most accessible. We're working to improve search functions and create tools people can use to collect recordings and upload them directly to the archive. Our goal is to make the Macaulay Library as useful as possible for the broadest audience possible."

The collection is intended for a diverse group of listeners and a variety of uses, including museum exhibits, movie sound effects, and even smartphone apps.

Now that all analogue recordings have been digitized, the archival team is focused on expanding the collection with new recordings from both amateurs and professionals from around the world.

Captivating Audio and Video Recordings

A sampling of some of the fascinating recordings include an Ostrich chick still inside the egg; a dawn chorus of nature’s wake-up calls recorded in Queensland, Australia; the jazzy sounds of the indri, a lemur; and the sounds of a walrus underwater.

Many species in the collection are also captured on video.

You can explore the entire collection at Macaulay Library.

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