Talking animals may be all the rage in children's movies and fantastical stories, but it would be rather bizarre to have a duck waddle up to you only to call you a 'bloody fool'. However, scientists have now released an audio clip of Ripper, an Australian musk duck saying what sounds suspiciously like an insult.
Ripper was recorded by Dr Peter Fullagar in 1987 at Australia's Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra. And while the duck had remained somewhat forgotten for decades, his audio clips were recently rediscovered by a professor at Netherlands' Leiden University.
While it is not unusual for some animals to be able to mimic sounds, reports suggest that this is the first documented evidence of this particular species being able to mimic sounds. Birds, most famously parrots, are no stranger to mimicry. However, the becomes all the more significant because the discovery had gone unnoticed for nearly 35 years. Ripper had reportedly been heard saying 'you bloody foo(l)' in a human voice.
"It started with an obscure reference about an Australian musk duck and ended in a nice paper...The man, Peter Fullagar, told me that the duck was hand reared and would have had heard the sound as a duckling, "Carel ten Cate told the university website.