The world’s largest natural sound archive just went up online

The Macaulay Library uploaded 150,000 recordings documenting the sounds of 9,000 species. It’s fully listenable and fully searchable.

The Macaulay Library at Cornell University, home of the world’s largest and oldest collection of nature recordings, just uploaded the whole, totally searchable, archive online for free. 9,000 species from across the world are documented in 150,000 audio recordings, totalling 10 terabytes and a run time of 7,513 hours.

The library has been building its holdings since 1929, amassing recordings from 75% of the world’s bird species (it operates within the Cornell Lab of Ornithology after all) and a growing collection of insect, fish, frog, and mammal recordings as well. It took the archivists a dozen years to digitize the whole kit and caboodle.

This represents just a small fraction of the estimated 8.7 million species living on earth, and still, it’s far and away the best catalogue detailing what life on earth sounds like. Our favourite? The Curl-crested Manucode, a bird-of-paradise from Papua New Guinea, sounds like an alien landing. But also, who knew walruses sound like a shitty drum machine?

Producers, get sampling.

Author: Chris Hampton


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