The fascinating human-like lives of whales and dolphins

Greg Evans
Tuesday 17 October 2017 12:45
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Picture:(iStock/ Getty Images)

A study has discovered that whales and dolphins are way more intelligent and complex than we probably gave them credit for.

The aquatic mammals have been found to have bigger brains than anticipated, which allow them to communicate in an efficient manner, forming bonds and understandings with each other.

Such complexities include having favoured hunting grounds, speaking in dialects, passing on whale songs to each other, babysitting, forming alliances and having varied diets.

The research from the University of Manchester, published in Nature, discovered this unique fact is only in found in certain species of said animals.

Susanne Shultz of the University is quoted by Today as saying:

What we can say for sure with the dolphins and whales is that it’s the groups like the killer whales and the bottlenose dolphins that are doing the really, really interesting things and they are also the ones that have the largest brains.

Blue whales, bowhead whales have small brains. They also seem to move around in loose aggregations.

They don’t have long-term, stable relationships. They don’t have lots of complex behaviours.

Although the team that conducted the research didn't directly study at whales and dolphins, they did manage to analyse older scientific evidence of the creatures that firmly backed up their theory.

Shultz adds:

Killer whales (orcas) live in societies of multiple generations and what people have been able to show recently is that older individuals are basically storehouses of information and they pass on this information to younger individuals in times of hardship.

Perhaps most fascinating of all is that whales actually understand the concept of trends. We're not talking fashion or anything like that but how things can lose their appeal after time.

There’s good evidence that sperm whales have fads.

What’s really attractive in one year isn’t attractive in another year. It is very much like our culture and our fashion.

One population invents a new song and it passes on to other populations.

When you thought this couldn't get any weirder, it is thought that dolphins actually enjoy and chin-wag about others.

In dolphins, there are specific calls that relate to a specific individual.

It’s like, ‘Hi Joe!'

They sometimes seem to use these names when the individuals aren't there. It could potentially be something like gossip.

Scientists now believe that these results could reveal more about us as human beings.

Previously humans have been placed at the top of the evolution chain due to our ability to interact, cook food and form societies.

While not all animals (or humans) can do that, these type of studies are likely to reveal more complexities about ourselves.

For me, the most striking thing is in other animals there are these parallels with humans about how societies evolve.

If we really want to understand who we are, whales are a good example for understanding why humans became such a complex species.

HT Today

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