By Helen Cross, Editor of MCFL News
Who knew? Human moms and dads apparently aren’t the only ones who like to sing to their unborn children. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports on new research from Australia on a group of birds with the delightful name of fairywren.
In a story titled “Baby Birds Learn Calls From Their Mothers While Still in the Egg,” Pat Leonard wrote, “A series of experiments on Superb Fairywrens led by Diane Colombelli-Negrel and Sonia Kleindorfer of Australia’s Flinders University suggested the embryos were learning while still in the egg-contradicting a long-held view that embryos have limited learning abilities.”
“Even among humans, it’s only been in the past few years that research has shown an unborn baby can begin to learn the sounds of speech when it is 30 weeks old.” There is a link to an article in Science with research about human babies learning to recognize words in the womb.
While we can’t know what kind of inner life fairywrens experience, we do know that the ability to intuit awe and wonder in the presence of mystery is a characteristic unique to human beings. To lose the capacity for joy concerning unborn life, whether a fetal homo sapiens or an embryonic fairywren, is to lose something particularly human.