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Has dolphin intelligence been exaggerated ?

Posted on Tuesday, 10 September, 2013 | Comment icon 18 comments

Dolphins have often been considered very human-like. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Vince Smith
New research has suggested that dolphins may not be any more intelligent than most other animals.
Long considered to be one of the most intelligent species on the planet, dolphins have received a great deal of attention for their playful nature and seemingly human-like behavior. But are these aquatic mammals genuinely clever or has this perception emerged due to decades of bias ?

Justin Gregg of the Dolphin Communication Project believes that dolphins are not quite all that they are cracked up to be. "Dolphins are fascinating in their own right, but in terms of intelligence they are nowhere near as special as they have been portrayed," he said.

Dolphins were first thought to be highly intelligent following experiments in the 1950s when their complex behaviors and communicative abilities were considered signs that the species was something above and beyond most other animals.

"Dolphin communication does not seem to be that special," said Gregg. "They do have a unique signature whistle, and it's possible they could use this to communicate, but they don't seem to have alarm calls or food calls - in that respect they are less sophisticated than chickens."

Source: MSN | Comments (18)

Tags: Dolphins

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #9 Posted by pallidin on 10 September, 2013, 19:57
This is true in some rescue cases regarding humans. Dolphins have even been known to actually swarm and surround to protect a human from shark attack. Why this is so I don't know, but is well documented. Doesn't happen often, and the human has to be in the right place at the right time, so-to-speak. And, not all dolphins, even of the the same species, exhibit this unusual "rescue" behavior with humans. One "theory" is that dolphins are especially protective of human females, though human males have also been "dolphin assisted" A curious creature to b... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by EtherialNight on 10 September, 2013, 20:24
Justin Gregg must be a lone voice. Dolphins have proven their intellect over and over. I think this Human has a hard time believing something other than a human has a higher, or more evolved intellect than himself, I wouldn't be surprised if he is a Christian. A dolphin can recognize a particular signature call of another dolphin even if they haven't heard that dolphin for many many years and after only hearing it once, they have a very long memory. And yes there have been many documented cases of dolphins saving Humans from shark attack, or saving Humans from drowning. A well known ca... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by Eaglelox on 10 September, 2013, 23:20
who are we to judge intelligence. we ruin the world, kill at will, claim religion, pretty much do everything against nature and still claim we are superior. some people believe dolphins are dumb. how easy would it to act dumb if you could communicate and no one even knew what you where saying or meant. the world is full of mysteries. i wouldn't count them out.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Frank Merton on 10 September, 2013, 23:28
I'm sure some have over-exaggerated dolphin intelligence, and others have undervalued it. That they are smart is so obvious it goes without saying, but then dogs and cats and certainly most primates are also smart, compared, for example, to something like a domestic cow. (For really stupid I give you the domesticated turkey, for smart, or at least tricky, I give you the wild turkey). We have been trying all my life to find a way to talk to dolphins, and have not succeeded. It would appear they communicate with each other but it is not something analogous to language but probably more l... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by ancient astronaut on 11 September, 2013, 2:23
Douglas Adams may have had it right after all.
Comment icon #14 Posted by kapow53 on 11 September, 2013, 3:34
as smart as they need to be. Ever tried to catch a fish in ur mouth?
Comment icon #15 Posted by SameerPrehistorica on 11 September, 2013, 5:10
I don't beelive in it much.Dolphins are one of the intelligent animals and sure it is few of the most intelligent marine animals.My favorites are Elephants and indeed they are very intelligent.. That is impressive.
Comment icon #16 Posted by FLOMBIE on 11 September, 2013, 10:07
They are curious, yes. And thus we do not know if they really willingly rescue humans, or if this is only playful behaviour. The latter seems more reasonable to me.
Comment icon #17 Posted by pallidin on 11 September, 2013, 16:54
Perhaps they can "sense" that a human needs air to breath, like theirselves, and can probably tell if a drowning human is in "distress", thus nudging him or her to the surface and, as also documented, even allowing the humas to "hold-on" and swim directly towards the shore or a nearby boat. Just speculating the dolphins intent, of course, but these cases have been authenticated.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Ryu on 8 October, 2013, 21:17
I agree completely. There is nothing special or mystical about any creature including humans. When I was a member of a Wiccan site I subtly brought up this very issue and gave a few examples including watching a male lion, who wanted to take over a pride, hunt down the babies then sit down to casually rip them apart or dolphins that will gang up on a baby -in another example- and bash into it over and over until it hemorrhages or worse. In that case I was told that the dolphins mystically "knew" something was wrong with it so that is why they killed it. I called BS on it all. We ... [More]

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