12 Curiosities About The Intelligence Of Dolphins

Dolphin intelligence

Dolphins are one of the most valued and popular animals in the world. It is an animal species that has inspired humans since ancient times, with even romantic overtones and often being a symbol of freedom, peace and joy.

Among its many qualities, The intelligence of dolphins is one of the most valued, along with their sociability and capacity for empathy both with their own species and with others (including humans). And the dolphin has been identified along with other cetaceans, primates, elephants and some species of birds such as crows as one of the most intelligent species of non-human animals (surpassing many of them in capacity). Throughout this article we are going to observe different curiosities and information linked to its high cognitive capacity.

What does it mean to be intelligent?

Before going on to see different data and curiosities that help us see the great potential and intelligence of dolphins, we should do a brief review of what we consider intelligence.

Although there are multiple theories and models in this regard, we can briefly define intelligence as the ability or set of intellectual capacities that allow a living being to successfully adapt to the environment that surrounds him, being able to solve more or less complex problems and use the resources available both in the subject himself and in the environment in the most efficient way possible. This implies the ability, among other aspects, to organize mental content, restructure and shape it, and even a certain capacity for abstraction.

Although traditionally this capacity has been linked and focused almost exclusively on humans, the truth is that there are multiple animal species that manifest considerable intelligent behaviors. And among them the dolphin stands out, which presents behaviors and a brain structure that make one think of this species as one of the most intelligent animals Some even believe that, if they had opposable hands and thumbs, they could even surpass our abilities.

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Curiosities about the intelligence of dolphins

Most people know that dolphins are very intelligent beings, but the truth is that there are many facts that are unknown or that may attract attention regarding this topic. Below we leave you a series of interesting facts about these beings that make us appreciate the high level of intelligence of dolphins.

1. They have a language

Dolphins enjoy not only great intelligence, but also abilities that until a few centuries ago were considered the exclusive heritage of human beings. One of them is that of language. Like other cetaceans such as whales, it has been observed that dolphins They have a complex communication system based on their characteristic clicking sounds being able to identify different elements with them and even apparently make reference to their emotional state.

2. They have their own name

Linked to the above, different research has proven that the human being is not the only creature that is identified by his peers in a symbolic way, with a distinctive name for each of us. And it has been proven by recording their language that dolphins They use these whistles to address others possessing whistles that identify other subjects.

3. They use tools

One of the aspects that has been most linked to cognitive ability is the ability to use the existing resources in the environment creatively in order to achieve a specific objective. It has been observed that dolphins are capable of this, using, among other elements, sea sponges when they search for food among corals This requires considerable cognitive skills, understanding the fact that they can experience damage and the need to use an item to avoid it, as well as find it and put it to practical use.

4. They have sex for pleasure

Most animals reproduce only in seasons when the females are fertile. Dolphins, like some primates and humans, are one of the few animals that do not consider sex only in their fertile phases, but rather have sexual relations on a regular basis. with the sole purpose of obtaining pleasure In addition to this, they carry out different courtship behaviors that they seem to enjoy.

5. They accompany you in the last moments

When a dolphin is in its last moments, it is possible to observe how his group tends to help him with their own bodies to rise to the surface, so that the creature can keep its blowhole (the hole through which they breathe) out of the water in order to be able to breathe more comfortably to alleviate their suffering. This is an example not only of the intelligence of dolphins, but also of the ability of these creatures to empathize.

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6. Military dolphins

The use of animals in the context of war has been relatively common throughout history. They were generally used as transportation or as a fundamental element to cause damage (horses, camels, elephants and dogs are good examples of this) or to communicate (as in the case of pigeons).

Although it is not something especially known by the majority of the population, some cetaceans have also been used in the military establishment. The high intelligence of dolphins and their ability to emit and perceive ultrasounds has been used to detect underwater mines, boats and divers. They can also transport and place mines (fleeing after placing them) and even serve as soldiers to attack divers and boats. It was frequently used during the Cold War and even today some armies continue to use them.

7. They can commit suicide

Although animal suicide is something highly discussed, it has been observed that many dolphins seem to decide to end their lives either by stopping breathing (in the dolphin breathing is not unconscious and automatic but requires control on their part), feeding or even repeatedly crashing into rocks or objects. This requires sufficient cognitive capacity to understand what death is and how it can be provoked, a capacity that dolphins seem to have.

8. They have culture

An example of the intelligence of dolphins is their ability to transmit knowledge to their peers. It has been observed how in some cases of dolphins that have been in captivity how, after having been taught some skill or way of doing certain actions, these ended up being replicated by a large part of their group, having been transmitted learned from the original.

It has also been observed that The language or way of communicating can vary between different groups of these animals, and the existence of learned “dialects” can be observed. Likewise, social play, mutual cooperation, caring for other people’s offspring, and the transmission of hunting strategies have been seen as signs of culture within these animals.

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9. Your brain structure is complex

The intelligence of dolphins has been an element that has aroused the curiosity of many people, with different analyzes and research having been carried out in this regard. At a neuroanatomical level, it has been observed that they have a very complex brain structure, with a very high level of encephalization (even suggesting that in some cases they even have greater intellectual capacity than humans) and a size that on average exceeds ours. In fact, it is one of the animals that has the largest brain in relation to its body size.

10. They recognize themselves in the mirror

Some experiments, now classic, carried out with different animals such as dolphins show that they have the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror. This implies the notion of a Self different from the rest, recognition of one’s own characteristics and actions and the fact that a reflection is not a different creature that is imitating us but the product of a refraction. This is another example of the intelligence of dolphins.

11. They empathize with other species

Possibly we have seen in a movie how a dolphin saves a bather or a castaway from a shark attack or from drowning. Although it may seem like an exaggeration or even a display of romanticism, the truth is that it is something that happens in reality.

And the dolphins They have the ability to empathize not only with beings of the same species but also with those of others. There are multiple cases in which these animals (and we are talking about animals in the wild, not trained for it) have saved the lives of many people by acting as bait or by surrounding a group of dolphins around a human being in order to protect them. This protective behavior directed at other species has also been observed, such as in some cases of whales attacked by sharks. They are able to understand that another creature is suffering or, in our case, that it is drowning, something that requires high intellectual capacity.

12. Non-human persons

Due to the very high level of intelligence of dolphins and their multiple cognitive abilities, different movements and proposals have appeared for dolphins to be considered “non-human persons”, making them holders of the same rights. This has happened in India, where the Central Zoo Authority has banned shows with these animals, as well as in Costa Rica, Hungary and Chile. Different zoos in Spain, such as Barcelona, ​​have also banned these shows.

In addition, some organizations have requested the approval of the declaration of rights for cetaceans, based on the high sensitivity and intelligence of these beings.