Dolphins "Name" One Another, Claim Researchers

Dolphins "Name" One Another, Claim Researchers

Dolphin headshot

Despite our overwhelming hubris, humanity did not invent the concept of naming individuals. Dolphins have been doing roughly the same thing for millennia.

Dolphins are incredibly smart creatures. Not only do they have the mental capacity to bond with humans and learn the complex routines taught at places like SeaWorld, but they're also smart enough to coordinate underwater attacks, and even plot out horrific acts like aquatic sexual assault. On a less terrible note, they also "name" one another, according to recent findings by researchers at Scotland's University of St. Andrews.

Before you get too excited, there aren't any dolphins named "Tim" swimming in the middle of the Pacific. Not only because that's a terrible name for a dolphin, but also because dolphin names aren't actually names as we think of them. They're individualized series' of whistles which dolphins are capable of recognizing as a unique reference to themselves.

Why whistles? Simply put: Water doesn't transmit sound in the same way that air does. As a result, a complex, consonant-rich name like those used by humans (even "Tim") would lose much detail and be rendered largely useless underwater. Extended tones (such as series' of whistles and humming) are much less likely to shed details as they propagate, and this aurally simple nature makes it possible for these "names" to travel great distances beneath the waves.

"[Dolphins] live in this three-dimensional environment, offshore without any kind of landmarks and they need to stay together as a group," explains Dr. Vincent Janik of the University of St. Andrew's Sea Mammal Research Unit. "These animals live in an environment where they need a very efficient system to stay in touch."

While it's been known for decades that dolphins communicate vocally, science has lacked firm evidence that they name one another. The University of St. Andrews team however, recorded a series of what were suspected to be unique identifying vocalizations that they then played back through underwater speakers toward a group of dolphins. According to the study's findings, the dolphins would respond only when recoginzing their unique identifying noise, suggesting that these sounds function in much the same way as human names.

Now the question becomes: Why do dolphins name one another? That remains a mystery, but scientists believe they may have evolved this skill as it's simply a very efficient way for dolphins to communicate underwater. They're mammals and thus can't rely on a sense of smell to navigate the depths, so being able to locate one another by sound makes it far easier for dolphins to coordinate themselves in an often dark, truly three-dimensional environment.

Source: BBC

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maybe it also helps the coordinate attacks. high-whistle-high-whistle-low-hum-squeal means "Jorge, dive down and attack from the bottom!"

Just a thought.

Next, we'll find out that dolphins already invented the concept of teabagging.

Awesome.

So Dolphins were basically using dial-up while we were still bashing rocks together? Wonder if we should throw a modem in there that receives and transmits dial-up tones, attempt to communicate with them.

Probably wouldn't work. Their protocols are most likely several millennium ahead of us. No way they're still using IPv6, let alone IPv4.

How long are those unique identifying tones anyway, maybe we can at least guess how many bits their addresses use?

So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad that it should come to this
We tried to warn you all but oh dear?

You may not share our intellect
Which might explain your disrespect
For all the natural wonders that
grow around you

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

The world's about to be destroyed
There's no point getting all annoyed
Lie back and let the planet dissolve(around you)

Despite those nets of tuna fleets
We thought that most of you were sweet
Especially tiny tots and your
pregnant women

So long, so long and thanks
for all the fish

... I had to.

Perhaps soon they will be whistling in triniary haiku, if not already.

I usually name Dolphins based on what they are in: Brine or Sunflower Oil.

Of course they have names; you won't get even half of the horrible, sadistic glee out of raping and murdering something that doesn't have a name!

Mimsofthedawg:
maybe it also helps the coordinate attacks. high-whistle-high-whistle-low-hum-squeal means "Jorge, dive down and attack from the bottom!"

Just a thought.

quite a good one actually.

did you know the US military once studied how chimps coordinate attacks to formulate their own jungle warfare strategies to the point that a squad of troops and a squad of chimps moving through bush now almost move in identical attack pattens...including moving in total silence and using LOS hand signals for communication...until it all kicks off ofc...

i saw footage of it once and it really was quite freaky watching chimps do something innately that you have seen human troops do endless times in the media and you tend to think of as exemplar of their leetness...

anyway ye...as someone who's read a fair bit anthropology/ethology i think that's a pretty good call.

Well this also makes the whole rapey dolphin thing much creepier. Jokers of the sea, permanent smiles affixed to their faces masking their malevolence.

I thought we knew this already? I mean, I may be wrong but I swear i've read this story before.

Well, dophin brain mass compared to their body size is the largest in the world (3 times as large as humans) so no doubt they can figure out complex things like names.

weirdguy:
Next, we'll find out that dolphins already invented the concept of teabagging.

Well, there are evidence to suggest that Dophines actually kill other dolphins for fun. especially the young ones. so i guess they already did.

MrHide-Patten:
Well this also makes the whole rapey dolphin thing much creepier. Jokers of the sea, permanent smiles affixed to their faces masking their malevolence.

wait, rapey dophin? werent the current trend rapist sloths?
then again, there is this:
http://askmenanswers.com/what-should-you-do-if-you-get-raped-by-a-dolphin/

Dolphins name each other? No, they don't: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=5453

Don't get your science from the BBC.

Giftmacher:
Dolphins name each other? No, they don't: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=5453

Don't get your science from the BBC.

Thank you. The whole 'names' abstraction is a typical case of humans trying to analyze other creatures by means of their own behavioral traits, which is subject to a major perceptual fallacy: if we ourselves don't even know how our brain and consciousness really work, it's impossible to tell how other beings' consciousness relates to it.

Besides, using "names" in a similar fashion to humans would have to mean more than just having a callsign with which to 'ping' others on their group. It would require a basic conversational ability of which there is no evidence in any creature other than humans and which is likely way out of reach even for the Dolphin's intellect.

LifeCharacter:
Of course they have names; you won't get even half of the horrible, sadistic glee out of raping and murdering something that doesn't have a name!

You'd know right? Also dolphins are called Flipper.

 

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