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Lots of animals, e.g. dogs, can hear sounds beyond the frequencies that humans can hear.

Would it be realistic to have a basically humanoid species which had two sets of vocal cords - one similar to a human's and another that created high frequency sounds in the frequency range of a dog whistle in the nasal passage, together with an expanded frequency range of hearing?

The notion is that an ability to use a nasal dog whistle-like voice box to communicate at frequencies that humans can't hear would look like telepathy to a casual human observer.

A related question.

If a humanoid like creature had this second voice box and range of hearing adaptations, would it need further adaptations (e.g. an additional set of ears or an ability to focus individual ears on different frequencies) to communicate in both the ordinary and ultrasonic channels simultaneously? Or, would the second voice box and additional range of frequency sensitivity be sufficient by themselves to carry on two simultaneous channels of communication?

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  • $\begingroup$ Related question - (basically duplicate of question 2) $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Mar 4 '18 at 19:03
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  1. Yes, our ear can easily be slightly changed to hear ultrasonic waves and normal sound, too. Children hear them already.
  2. For telepathy effect even very primitive signals would be enough. Clicks, whistles an so on - so, no problems with producing them. Everyone can, if can whistle, for example. Make the sound higher until you don't hear it - and welcome in the ultrasonic range.
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    $\begingroup$ Children can hear ultrasonics? Sauce? $\endgroup$ – MozerShmozer Jun 29 '17 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ @MozerShmozer Source? The school book. Children hear the shrieks of bats that are classified as ultrasonic. $\endgroup$ – Gangnus Jun 29 '17 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ Digital hearing aids with special programs cause hearing ultrasonics and high voltage electric wire/equipment hums as an interference, so it's very believable if it is part of a biological ear too. Also, dogs just understand what you want in certain situations with a related sound. I can snap my fingers without saying anything and my dog knows it means sit. Many dog owners will tell of similar "telepathy" with their dogs. Dogs are excellent at learning/reading body language cues and emotional states...they are just that smart. $\endgroup$ – N2ition Jun 29 '17 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ @MozerShmozer The "mosquito ringtone" made the news for some small period of time - a tone in the range that it can't be heard by most older people, so young people used it as a ringtone. Here's a clip that plays progressively higher tones that are only heard by progressively younger people. youtube.com/watch?v=IrewnzQYrPI $\endgroup$ – VBartilucci Mar 6 '18 at 20:27
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No.

There's no place in the humanoid nasal cavity for these high-frequency vocal cords to go. (We need our sinuses to protect the nose from dust, dirt, pollutants, etc...)

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Edit: besides, if humans can hear high frequencies, then it's not telepathy, it's... hearing.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, nasal cavities have already given size and work for resonation of the given sound range. (the higher range, BTW, so when we catch a cold, we speak more to bass.) But Ethmoid sinuses resonate at ultrasonic frequencies - so, I do not see problems here... But for producing sounds they need a vibrating detail in them or near. And there is not such. But (again that "but"!) in SCIFI story it could appear. Only with rhinitis you can't speak then :-) $\endgroup$ – Gangnus Mar 5 '18 at 11:54

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