Research from the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews has shown that grey seals can copy the human voice by using the same sound production mechanisms as humans.
The research published in Current Biology found that seals could be a new model system to study speech disorders.
Researchers at the university, Dr Amanda Stansbury and Professor Vincent Janik, monitored three grey seals from birth.
The seals were then trained to copy new sounds.
One seal in particular, Zola, was exceptionally good at copying melodies the researchers played her, while two other seals were taught combinations of human vowel sounds that they copied correctly.
Dr Stansbury said he was amazed how well the seals copied the model sounds: "“Copies were not perfect but given that these are not typical seal sounds it is pretty impressive.
"Our study really demonstrates how flexible seal vocalisations are. Previous studies just provided anecdotal evidence for this.”