(ANIMAL SCIENCE) It looks like Doctor Dolittle might not have been so special after all—as it turns out, animals really can talk! According to a new study, bottlenose dolphins can actually identify the vocal patterns of other dolphins familiar to them. What’s more, scientists have observed variations in these patterns that imply bottlenose dolphins may in fact be sharing additional information with one another. However, this news really comes as no surprise seeing as though dolphins are the second smartest animal in the world—second only to humans. Regardless, this level of communication between species is uncommon and could mean big news for the future understanding of animal communication. Continue reading to find out what scientists believe this could mean for the animal world. — Global Animal
Ecorazzi, Jill Ettinger
News that dolphins are capable of calling each other by name broadens the dialogue on our relationships with animals.
A recently released study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, revealed startling behavior about our marine mammal cousins: bottlenose dolphins recognize signature whistles of other dolphins whom they know, and may even mimic them.
The researchers found that the bottlenose dolphins “extract identity information from signature whistles, even after all voice features have been removed from the signal,” which helps them to form different types of social relationships. When calling other dolphins by their “names,” researchers noted variations, including personal attributes of the dolphin calling out, which could suggest they were sharing additional information. Think of it as if you just locked your keys in the car how you might call out to your spouse, or if a child had wandered off. There’s more information in how you call someone’s name than just the name itself.
While the researchers say there’s more to study, they do believe what they’ve observed is rare in the animal world. The ability for animals to communicate names and information through language is a pretty big discovery.
And what this indicates, of course, is that there are likely myriad complex animal relationships we may not ever fully comprehend, such as bees‘ “hive mind,” how ants send signals or why elephants mourn deaths of others for so long. But it does further bring into question human dominion over animals and the justifications for doing so.
As our food systems relies more heavily on animals than ever before in history, it’s worth recognizing the potential for these animals to comprehend and respond to their circumstances. Pigs, for example, are actually more intelligent than the average dog. We don’t need much convincing of a dog’s ability to reason and communicate with us. In fact, for many of us, the conversations are as clear as those with another human.