Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dolphins, Jerks of the Sea: Part 3

Show me a person that hates dolphins and I'll show you a person with no heart. People love dolphins because they're so much like humans, but we're jerks and so are they. Let's dive right in to:

Part 3: Infanticide

Again, show me a person who hates baby dolphins and well... you see where I'm going.
In the summer of 1997, a dead baby bottlenose dolphin washed onto a Virginia beach. Its body was badly bruised; it had broken ribs and a punctured lung. One telltale clue gave scientists a grim surprise: bite marks that matched the exact pattern of the teeth of an adult bottlenose. Researchers concluded an adult dolphin had murdered a young baby or calf, a practice known in nature as infanticide.

Now scientists are amassing startling evidence that suggests the beloved animals have a violent side as well. Dolphins seem to be killing porpoises, a related sea mammal, and baby dolphins in droves, wielding their long snouts as clubs and their jagged teeth to slash their victims to death. Can it be that dolphin behavior simply resembles that of most large animals, who are capable of being playful or violent by turns?
As if that weren't enough, look at this possible connection to Part 2: Ruthless Killers
But why would bottlenoses kill porpoises? Since harbor porpoises are roughly the same size as baby dolphins, Scottish researchers speculate that dolphins may practice their infant-killing techniques on porpoises. Infanticide is not uncommon in nature, especially among mammals. When food supplies dwindle, a mother gerbil, for example, may eat the weakest of her babies to ensure she has enough energy to produce food for her other infants. Scientists theorize that bottlenose dolphins may have more in common with these "cannibal animals" (see sidebar, right) than was previously thought.
ACK!!!!! Say it ain't so flipper.

Next week it just gets worse.

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