Dolphins Respond When Called By Name
You might not know but it’s a fact that bottlenose dolphins can follow “recipes” in preparing mollusks, help other species in distress, and possibly do math.
Individual dolphins have a unique whistle, called a “signature whistle,” that they often use in big group settings a past study said. The idea has been around since 1960s that dolphins have a name in the form of a whistle, and recent studies of captive dolphins have shown that the animals respond to the whistles of the dolphins they know.
But a new study takes the theory a step further by stating that a dolphin will respond when it hears the sound of its own signature whistle, repeating that whistle back in a way that seems to say, “Yup, I’m here—did you call my name?” explained Whitney Friedman, a dolphin-behavior expert at the University of California, San Diego.
It’s “compelling evidence” that the dolphin indeed uses the sound as a name, according to the study, published July 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research was performed by a group of scientists on a boat off eastern Scotland who joined up with a group of wild dolphins. When one of the dolphins announced itself with its signature whistle—the equivalent of “Joey!” for instance—the researchers recorded that sound.
Later, the team played that same “Joey!” call back to the dolphins, and a significant portion of the time, the dolphin they called Joey responded with the same call—as if Joey was saying, “Yup, I’m here.”
The dolphins responded a little when the scientists played recordings of whistles of familiar dolphins from the same population, but did not respond at all to unfamiliar dolphins from a different population.
Does that make dolphins the most intelligent animal? We would like to hear your views on this! :)
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