Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dolphins, Jerks of the Sea: Part 4

Ah Dolphins, how can I point out your flaws this week? This week I'm going to take us back to some earlier dolphin posts of mine and point out tool using. This will lead us into what will fill out this 5 week series (possibly to be revisited when Dolphins shock me once again with their inappropriate behavior =P) .

Part 4: Tools

As I have already established, Dolphins are fond of Bling. Using particularly choice pieces of flotsam to attract mates. But their fascination with material comforts doesn't end there.

Dolphins are possessed of:
"the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience." This definition is separate from social traits or the ability to learn tricks (which can be done through conditioning), which many laymen confuse with animal intelligence. Some research shows that dolphins do exceptionally well in this aspect indicating very high intelligence, even surpassing the intelligence level of a chimpanzee, which is generally believed to be the highest amongst non-human animals. Dolphins also seem capable of discriminating between numbers, which is a highly abstract ability. However, many scientists now tend to rank dolphins about the level of elephants in "intelligence" tests and say that dolphins haven't shown any unusual talent with problem solving compared with the other animals classed with very high intelligence."
That means they're at least capable of stealing your wallet, but that's conjecture on my part. Some species of dolphins have been observed using sponges on their snouts in order to protect them while hunting. They then teach this behavior to their babies so that they won't abrade their delicate nose-skin when eating poisonous stinging things.

Dolphins also create their own toys,

What the hell was that, you ask? That was a stable underwater toroidal air-core vortex rings, that's right, dolphins are way ahead of us in underwater bubble technology.

There are two main methods of bubble ring production: rapid puffing of a burst of air into the water and allowing it to rise to the surface, forming a ring; or swimming repeatedly in a circle and then stopping to inject air into the helical vortex currents thus formed. The dolphin will often then examine its creation visually and with sonar. They also appear to enjoy biting the vortex-rings they've created, so that they burst into many separate normal bubbles and then rise quickly to the surface.
As if all of these things weren't enough, dolphins have the most dangerous tool of all, Language.
Each dolphin has an individual name,
“Each animal develops an individually distinctive signature whistle in the first few months of its life, which appears to be used in individual recognition.”
Since we've established that dolphins have their own names, they probably make up ones for people too, like "dumb ass nose breather number 5" and "fat bringer of dead fish" and "the dude who I will someday bite in the face." Again, conjecture, but I went to elementary school, I know how nicknames work, and if dolphins are anything like us, they're laughing at our expense.

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