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Songs of the Deep

Article #121 • Written by Anthony Kendall

Few species on Earth communicate as frequently and effectively as human beings, and none so majestically or ubiquitously as whales. Immersed in an environment rich in sound but poor in light, whales and dolphins developed complex communication systems that they use to mate, feed, socialize, and navigate. The "vocabulary" of some types of whales such as the beluga and humpback is expansive, and rivals most non-humans creatures. Others can communicate over vast distances across the abyss. And, while not strictly communication, many dolphin and whale species use advanced echolocation to hunt and navigate.

The means and ends of these communications are most astounding to humans perhaps because we are accustomed to viewing communication as a sign of intelligence, and probably most people believe that humans are the only truly intelligent species on this planet. One way scientists attempt to quantify the intelligence of a species is to measure the ratio between brain size and body mass and compare it to that of a human. While no species matches human brain proportionately, some whale species come very close. Scientists do not agree on the exact level of intelligence of whales, but there are some truly astounding examples of whale communication that provide strong evidence in their favor.

Many species of whales hunt prey in groups called pods, and communication plays a vital role in their success. Some pods of humpback whales, including those from the Chatham Strait in Glacier Bay, Alaska, use a fascinating technique called bubble net hunting. When one member of the pod detects a school of prey fish it emits a feeding call that both the fish and the whale pod members respond to. The fish shy away from the feeding call while the pod members position themselves underneath the school.

Using enormous gulps of air from the surface, the pod circles the school blowing streams of bubbles that form a curtain around the fish. The curtain confuses the fish and they become trapped inside it. Communicating acoustically the entire time, members of the pod take turns swimming vertically through the center of the bubble curtain and swallowing hundreds of fish before surfacing, sometimes spectacularly.

Long before the internet and television, before Bell summoned Watson in that first telephone call, even before Marconi invented the radio and Morse the telegraph, whales were calling each other literally from opposite ends of the oceans. This amazing discovery was made using the US Navy's Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) that was installed to track and monitor Soviet subs during the Cold War. It turns out that SOSUS can track whales just as well as it can submarines. SOSUS data showed that a single whale in the Atlantic Ocean could call to others across nearly the entire ocean. Long-term records have also showed that this distance has decreased over time as shipping traffic has increased. Scientists estimate that doubling shipping traffic has nearly halved the distance over which whales can effectively communicate. Researchers suspect that prior to propeller-powered shipping, whales could call across entire oceans and even from one ocean basin to another.

These long-distance communications are carried along a natural underwater network of acoustic waveguides. Sound traveling deep in the ocean is bent by changes in the speed of sound, just as light is bent when it enters the water. The speed of sound in the ocean depends on varying conditions such as temperature, pressure, and salinity. At certain depths and locations, sound waves travel along channels called "acoustic waveguides" because sounds waves attempting to radiate away from the channel are bent back toward it by changes in the sound speed around the waveguide. SOSUS relies on these waveguides to detect Russian submarines, and whales rely on them for communication and navigation. Like most natural systems on the Earth, waveguides are constantly evolving and are affected by the Earth's climate, so communication may have been very different during the last ice age than it is today.

Most whale communications are brief and simple, but in 1971 researchers Roger Payne and Scott McVay realized that the song of the humpback whales was something altogether different. In one of nature's most impressive migrations, each year humpback whales travel from the rich summer feeding grounds of the Arctic seas to the warmer, safer waters of the West Indies and Hawaiian Islands to mate and breed during the winter. There the males sink to a depth of several hundred feet, position themselves with their fins rigidly pointed forward, and begin to sing.

The whales sing across nearly the entire range of human hearing with a vocal range no human could match. They lack vocal chords, so they probably create the sounds by circulating air through their respiratory systems. But during their singing they do not move their mouths, and no air leaves their blowholes either. Nevertheless, the whales' remarkable musical instrument can be heard as much as 20 miles away.

Their songs are organized in a "Russian doll" hierarchy beginning with single units or notes that are grouped in sub-phrases that last approximately ten seconds long. Two sub-phrases comprise a phrase that is repeated for several minutes as a single theme. When one theme is complete, the whales will sing another, and another, continuing for about thirty minutes. This collection of themes makes up a whale song that the male repeats frequently for hours or even days.

Researchers do not know the precise reason for the humpback whale song, but it is suspected to simultaneously attract females and ward off competitor males. What they do know is that these songs do not remain constant throughout the season. The males listen to each other and adjust their songs over the course of the mating season and throughout the years. New songs form gradually, and while they may contain themes from previous songs, the old songs will not be repeated. Whales from different areas sing in different "dialects" that may reflect the local conditions of each population, and the unique evolution of their songs.

Whale songs became a popular cultural icon in the 1970s as albums of recorded songs were best-sellers in record stores, and the two Voyager spacecraft were launched carrying gold-plated records with recorded whale songs. Many younger folks, like myself, may have been first exposed to humpback whale songs by Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The popularity of humpback whale songs (and others, such as a type of Indian Ocean blue whale) created a great deal of popular support for the "Save the Whales" campaign. Proponents (and the Star Trek writers) claimed the songs implied that the whales were fellow intelligent creatures, while scientists in whaling nations have played down these notions and equated them with the mooing of a terrestrial cow.

Either way, they must be heard to be fully appreciated.

Article written by Anthony Kendall, published on 21 February 2006. Anthony is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Edited by Alan Bellows.

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36 Comments
SkaVanker
Posted 21 February 2006 at 12:40 pm

I probebly ain't smarter than them, but they sure have good meat!


Arcangel
Posted 21 February 2006 at 12:57 pm

It's truly unfortunate that there are still countries who systematically hunt down and kill these wonderous creatures to almost extinction without even the slight hint of guilt. If only we could translate their communications into a language we understood, would we still be so enlightened to kill them off. Thank goodness that these mammals have a friend in Greenpeace.


Stephen Gordon
Posted 21 February 2006 at 02:21 pm

The best way to help endangered creatures is to allow ownership. When people profit from the survival of creatures - even if it involves responsibility harvesting them, the animals do better.

A good example is the Louisianna alligator. When it was illegal to hunt or farm them they nearly went extinct. Why? Because swamp owners saw them as a nuisance. They'd poach them or would fail to keep others from poaching. Once Louisiana allowed hunting, then the alligators became valuable. The owners could lease out the land to licensed hunters. Others got licensed to farm the animals. Now, the Louisiana alligator is back from the brink. In fact, there are more alligators in Louisiana now than ever.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/10/1022_Ally_1.html

Owning a whale is a tougher proposition. In order for one person to have exclusive rights to a whale they would have to be able to exclude others from harvesting it. That's tough with a creature that swims from one end of the ocean to the other. It's the dilemma of the commons. If you can't keep the other guy from overharvesting, you'd better overharvest too even if that means driving the animal to extinction. Short-term profits beat no profits.

Technology might come to the rescue. If an RFID tag could be monitored ocean-wide, you could see if the whale is being harvested illicitly. You could inforce ownership rights between whalers. Once the whalers could see that the system worked, they'd become active conservationists.


rome
Posted 21 February 2006 at 05:55 pm

speaking of good meat. i heard but never did research because im lazy, but i heard that manatees were brought over by the spanish to eat but the manatees reproductive cycle was too slow so they couldn't really eat it as frequently as they'd like to they brought over cows instead. anywho i want to eat a manatee


Secret Ninja
Posted 21 February 2006 at 08:30 pm

Manatees do not even look tasty, and I am a strong proponent of meat eating. How would the Spanish bring manatees? I think they were here anyway. Someone might have just told you this because manatees are sometimes called sea cows...


student
Posted 21 February 2006 at 11:09 pm

Within the past year or so, I read two things that I think have bearing here:

1. It has been substantiated that the bowhead whale can live 200+ years. The first indication of whale longevity was the antique harpoons (ivory tipped) that they found embedded in whales, and later biochemical analysis showed indeed that one whale was 220 years old with maybe a 10% error factor. So we have been killing sentient creatures that have been around since the time of Washington and Jefferson. (Or longer; maybe the really old ones live 400 years... I wonder what THEY taste like?)

2. The idea that the reason whales are so big is to have a body big enough to support their large brains.

I don't know if we will ever know just how intelligent whales are. I can imagine that these complex songs might reflect mate selection based on intelligence. I wonder how a really intelligent one tastes.


Oax
Posted 21 February 2006 at 11:21 pm

refering to the brain/body ratio, as I remember, dolphins have a larger brain to body ratio than we do and their brains are more convoluted, creating more surface area. some smaller mammals also have a larger brain to body ratio but there are absolute minimums that a brain needs.


Oax
Posted 21 February 2006 at 11:37 pm

On intelligence.. I think we tend to judge that on an anthropomorphic scale. the more like us they are, they smarter they are. whereas a dog will retrieve a stick for hours because we want him to, a cat won't even glance at it because he knows "you threw it, you should go get it".

I remember on a Rush Limbaugh show he was talking about a cruise he and his wife took. there were dolphins there and she looked over the side and said " If they're so smart, where are their highways?"
In that example, one does detect a lack of smarts.


student
Posted 21 February 2006 at 11:58 pm

I think it is possible that when you put 5 kilogramss of neurons together you might get something that yields a completely different order of intelligence.


Stuart
Posted 22 February 2006 at 02:19 am

I'm not sure how we can compare the intelligence of one species against another if they live in different habitats with different problems to overcome. Apparently bears can learn to solve certain problems much quicker than chimpanzees (if food is their motivation), however, we consider chimpanzees to be the more intelligent species because of their complex social structure. Bears are naturally solitary creatures so either they do not need social skills and have therefore not evolved to have them or their lack of social skills has left them remaining solitary. In the same way that dolphins are very intelligent but it is unlikely that they'll ever be able to learn how to ride a mini-bicycle or roller-skate. Does this mean they aren't as clever as chimps? I think a lot to do with chimps reputation as the 2nd intelligence on the planet is probably a lot to do with them looking like us and their ability to be learn to replicate our behaviour.


Marius
Posted 22 February 2006 at 03:57 am

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


student
Posted 22 February 2006 at 05:22 am

I don't think the comparison of intelligence is so important. It is arguable that we shouldn't be killing any animal for food, but I think whales are a special case of this. Merely the fact that they are so long lived, that by harpooning them we are depriving a sentient creature of centuries of life, argues against doing it.

I think they have something to tell us, but they won't do it while any human anyplace is killing them.


Erin1988
Posted 22 February 2006 at 08:11 am

Whales scare the bejesus out of me.

I think it's their size.


karphi
Posted 22 February 2006 at 12:22 pm

I never heard that chimps were "2nd" in intelligence, I always thought it was dolphins.
Manatees have been around Florida for millions of years.


foley
Posted 22 February 2006 at 12:42 pm

There is something I don't understand. First you say:
"Scientists estimate that doubling shipping traffic has nearly halved the distance over which whales can effectively communicate. Researchers suspect that prior to propeller-powered shipping, whales could call across entire oceans and even from one ocean basin to another."

But then you write:
"Nevertheless, the whales' remarkable musical instrument can be heard as much as 20 miles away."

Is there a difference between communication distance and hearing distance, or is it a mistake. If it is a mistake which one is correct?


Anthony Kendall
Posted 22 February 2006 at 12:58 pm

Foley,
Good question, the songs that the humpbacks sing are not intended for long-distance communication. So 20 miles is an estimate of how far their songs can be readily distinguished (using our instruments, I'm not sure if there is any way to tell how far away other humpbacks can hear the songs).

The deeper, long distance communications are a very different sort of communication, as far as I could determine. They are short communications, not the 30 minute long "russian doll" songs of the humpbacks. Two species that I read about specifically communicating using the acoustic waveguides were right whales, and...I can't remember the other one right this instant, but it was another Atlantic species as well.

Hope this clears things up a bit!

Also, these discussions about animal intelligence are great, I've always been fascinated by the brain mass/body mass ratio. I suspect that if we could understand what the whales are singing about, we might learn something. That's why SETI is interested in the communications of whales. If we can learn to understand the information content of whale communications, then perhaps we might be able to some day decode messages that SETI might detect from other stars.


Secret Ninja
Posted 22 February 2006 at 06:23 pm

student said: "I don't think the comparison of intelligence is so important. It is arguable that we shouldn't be killing any animal for food, but I think whales are a special case of this. Merely the fact that they are so long lived, that by harpooning them we are depriving a sentient creature of centuries of life, argues against doing it.


I think they have something to tell us, but they won't do it while any human anyplace is killing them."

If you don't think we should be killing animals for food, why should we kill plants? Plants are just as alive as animals... I think you're just lazy.

And animals taste much better, don't even try and deny it.

AND WHEN HAS ANY NON-HUMAN ANIMAL EVER TOLD YOU ANYTHING BESIDES IT WAS HUNGRY


Oax
Posted 23 February 2006 at 12:09 am

Stuart said: "I'm not sure how we can compare the intelligence of one species against another if they live in different habitats with different problems to overcome. Apparently bears can learn to solve certain problems much quicker than chimpanzees (if food is their motivation), however, we consider chimpanzees to be the more intelligent species because of their complex social structure. Bears are naturally solitary creatures so either they do not need social skills and have therefore not evolved to have them or their lack of social skills has left them remaining solitary. In the same way that dolphins are very intelligent but it is unlikely that they'll ever be able to learn how to ride a mini-bicycle or roller-skate. Does this mean they aren't as clever as chimps? I think a lot to do with chimps reputation as the 2nd intelligence on the planet is probably a lot to do with them looking like us and their ability to be learn to replicate our behaviour."

I agree. dolphins may be deeply philosophical, but can't even use fire. ants and bees function as a social unit better than chimps or humans could ever hope to. but as far as chimps looking like us, maybe we look like them.
we measure things against ourselves because we see ourselves as the ultimate creation.
but chickens don't test nuclear bombs in their own atmosphere.

and I am a member of PETA.
People Eating Tasty Animals


rationalist
Posted 23 February 2006 at 05:27 pm

Dolphins recognize an image in a mirror as themselves, and even understand the left-right inversion. Here is an article about the experiment that proved this.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/05/0502_dolphinvanity.html

I've seen amazing video of a marked dolphin immediately swimming to a mirror and turning its body so that the mark will be visible to it.

Until this experiment, it was thought that only higher primates had this ability. All the more astonishing since dolphins don't typically have natural examples of flat, stable mirrors as chimps have, for example, in rain puddles. The dolphins had to learn and understand the phenomenon, which indicates quite advanced cognition.


Robert Waugh
Posted 24 February 2006 at 02:18 am

Somewhat unrelated, but I've been reading David Brin's "Uplift Saga" in a marathon session this week. In that series, humans have uplifted chimps and dolphins to "sapiency" and together they struggle to survive within an ancient hierarchy spanning five galaxies. In Brin's Uplift universe, the Earthlings sell whale songs to other interplanetary species as one of their few valuable commodities, human technology and art being childishly primitive by intergalactic standards.

On the surface, I imagine whales are highly intelligent. But mostly we're too dumb to realize it. Considering their large size, long lifespans, their ability to learn and to pass on their learning, intelligence has been a deciding factor guiding their evolution for a long, long time. The humpbacks were probably singing their songs while our monkey ancestors were still climbing down from the trees.

But on another level, it wouldn't help the whales if they were universally deemed intelligent. As a species we humans claim to be smart, and yet what matters in the end isn't intelligence, but agreement.

The logic goes: You don't agree with me? Either you're stupid, or I am. Ergo, you must die to prove my rectitude.

The implications of cetacean intelligence come down to: Boy, you humans sure are dumb! Look at you, waging war against each other and destroying the planet's ecosystem. You should just float around. Eat some fish. Make music with your friends. Dude, it works for us.

"Oh yeah," say the humans. "Eat harpoon, hippie."


indra c
Posted 24 February 2006 at 05:45 am

Anthony Kendall said: "That's why SETI is interested in the communications of whales. If we can learn to understand the information content of whale communications, then perhaps we might be able to some day decode messages that SETI might detect from other stars."

AWESOME !!! Maybe they do understand the emmanation of stars themselves. Maybe they are in tune with the primal voice of the universe. Maybe...


indra c
Posted 26 February 2006 at 12:31 pm

Here's an extract form the article Anthony Kendall points to concerning whale songs and SETI. Thanks Anthony, great link.

"And how might this apply to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence? If there is a relationship between social complexity and vocal complexity, then the measure of one will be a measurement, to some degree, of the other. If a SETI signal is received, and is a normal (i.e., un-coded) communication, it will have to obey the rules of information theory in order to transmit information. Thus, a measure of the information complexity of such SETI signals could also be a first direct measurement of the social complexity of an extraterrestrial species, irrespective of the actual decipherment of the meaning of such a message itself"


The_Smurf_Strangler
Posted 06 April 2006 at 01:47 pm

Ummm Oax....dolphins don't use fire because they live in the water. They probably considered it highly inconvinient.


The_Smurf_Strangler
Posted 06 April 2006 at 01:50 pm

indra c said: "Here's an extract form the article Anthony Kendall points to concerning whale songs and SETI. Thanks Anthony, great link.


"And how might this apply to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence? If there is a relationship between social complexity and vocal complexity, then the measure of one will be a measurement, to some degree, of the other. If a SETI signal is received, and is a normal (i.e., un-coded) communication, it will have to obey the rules of information theory in order to transmit information. Thus, a measure of the information complexity of such SETI signals could also be a first direct measurement of the social complexity of an extraterrestrial species, irrespective of the actual decipherment of the meaning of such a message itself""

Remember on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when the whales left before the earth was destroyed because they were the only ones paying attention? God I love that book....


ChickenHead
Posted 14 July 2006 at 01:25 pm

The_Smurf_Strangler said: "Remember on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when the whales left before the earth was destroyed because they were the only ones paying attention? God I love that book…."

Dolphins


Tink
Posted 12 November 2006 at 11:20 pm

Anthony Kendall said: "Foley,

Good question, the songs that the humpbacks sing are not intended for long-distance communication. So 20 miles is an estimate of how far their songs can be readily distinguished (using our instruments, I'm not sure if there is any way to tell how far away other humpbacks can hear the songs).

The deeper, long distance communications are a very different sort of communication, . They are short communications, not the 30 minute long "russian doll" songs of the humpbacks. Two species that I read about specifically communicating using the acoustic waveguides were right whales, and…I can't remember the other one , but it was another Atlantic species as well.
...."

Elephants; it has recently been discovered; have a low pitched hum and song that can be heard by other 'phants well over 25 miles away, depending on the landscape topography.
This sound is almost below human hearing, and apparently is used as a distress signal as well as to convey news, such as a death in the herd, or an abundant food or water supply.

Btw, downloaded the whale songs and my dog went nuts, he was tearing the house up looking for the source of the sound..couldn't pin point it as coming from the speakers...Odd huh? lol Thanks for the article, DI!


Beautiful Confusion
Posted 22 August 2007 at 03:26 pm

It's interesting to me that we are so focused on learning what life may live beyond our own planet when we know so little about the creatures that live right here on earth. So much of our oceans are undiscovered simply because we lack the technology. That's why I thought this article was DI :)


Ronald
Posted 28 May 2008 at 03:17 pm

Stephen Gordon said: "The best way to help endangered creatures is to allow ownership. When people profit from the survival of creatures - even if it involves responsibility harvesting them, the animals do better.
etc.

Technology might come to the rescue. If an RFID tag could be monitored ocean-wide, you could see if the whale is being harvested illicitly. You could inforce ownership rights between whalers. Once the whalers could see that the system worked, they'd become active conservationists."

I agree that the economic concept here is sound, but I don't believe it would work with these animals. Their breeding cycle is too long to raise them under any cost effective method. And just a quick side note, when considering intelligence one of the most important aspect is actually the number of creases and folds in the brain, not just brain size. I am not sure why this is true but it could be this just creates more surface area, as some one mentioned in an earlier comment.


Wuzzle
Posted 10 August 2008 at 05:30 am

I don't understand why the brain size to body ratio matters. Doesn't a bigger brain mean more intelligence, no matter how large the body? Also, if whales and dolphins are intelligent, why haven't they developed technology? I would like to believe that humans aren't the only "intelligent" creatures out there, but it doesn't seem that the answer is on Earth. Then again, maybe the "bloop" is intelligent...


Simius
Posted 16 November 2008 at 02:01 am

"even before Marconi invented the radio"

Marconi is a REALLY weird spelling of Nikola Tesla... the inventor of the Radio


sweeper
Posted 01 December 2008 at 10:25 am

Re: Wuzzle

Simply speaking, the bigger an animal is, the bigger you'd expect its brain to be (it'd be pretty surprising if an elephant and a mouse both had brains the same size). Where an animal has a bigger brain than would be expected simply from looking at its body-size, it's a fair assumption that the animal is more intelligent than the average animal. Google EQ (Encephalisation Quotient). And, as an aside, whales sure are tasty =) (Also, the Norwegian Minke whale harvest is, as it stands, a sustainable fishery. Something most other fisheries aren't. I have far more guilt eating cod than i do munching whaleflesh).


ValiantDefender
Posted 16 December 2008 at 04:59 pm

1) I don't believe in hunting/fishing anything into the danger zone
2) MEAT is tasty :D
3) Its silly to ask why whales don't have roads. They wouldn't use a road even if they had them. However, it is more telling to ask why they cannot communicate better. I'm not a "whale-o-logist" or anything so I do speak from ignorance to that degree. I would assume that higher intelligence would be able to communicate higher level of ideas to us and as far as i know, no animal has ever communicated anything higher than instinctual needs/desires...food/sleep/hunger/mate, etc.


Ted
Posted 28 December 2008 at 12:26 pm

ValiantDefender said: "1) I don't believe in hunting/fishing anything into the danger zone

2) MEAT is tasty :D

3) Its silly to ask why whales don't have roads. They wouldn't use a road even if they had them. However, it is more telling to ask why they cannot communicate better. I'm not a "whale-o-logist" or anything so I do speak from ignorance to that degree. I would assume that higher intelligence would be able to communicate higher level of ideas to us and as far as i know, no animal has ever communicated anything higher than instinctual needs/desires…food/sleep/hunger/mate, etc."

Well that's only applicable to human understandings of animals' reasons to communicate. It is possible that they are so much more intelligent than us that we cannot fully comprehend what they're doing. It is also possible that because they ARE smarter that they don't bother communicating for trivial reasons (anything other than survival and reproduction).

I'm just stating the possibilities, I don't necessarily believe them myself.


Lyndale
Posted 31 January 2009 at 09:26 am

Wuzzle said: "I don't understand why the brain size to body ratio matters. Doesn't a bigger brain mean more intelligence, no matter how large the body? Also, if whales and dolphins are intelligent, why haven't they developed technology?

The reason the brain/body ratio matters is simple: An animal the size of a whale has how much surface area on their body? Does this surface area have tactile feeling (sense of touch)? Those nerves don't all report back to a single neuron in the brain. Thus a large brain is not necessarily indicative of intelligence. That's where the ratio comes in. A great white shark is a large creature, but its brain is small for its size.

Technology is often developed out of necessity. We would likely not have computers today if there had not been a need to be able to do complex math work to make other things we needed (or perceived we needed) decades ago. Then again, this hinges on the standard idea of technology being things (items).

Intelligence is a murky subject that we don't even understand. We have no universal definition for what constitutes intelligence. What is funny is the language bias in perceiving intelligence. Too often people assume that others who can't understand their language are less intelligent. As far as it stands right now, it seems that intelligence is similar to art (or was it pornography? or was it obscenity?): people can't define it, but they think they know it when they see it.


kc-guy
Posted 14 March 2009 at 09:52 pm

RE:
Marius #11 February 22nd, 2006 3:57 am
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
-> Amen, and wow, that was a disturbingly long time ago

Simius #30
Marconi is a REALLY weird spelling of Nikola Tesla.. the inventor of the Radio
-> Glad someone else said it before I did!

Sweeper #31 (and related comments by Lyndale #34)
Where an animal has a bigger brain than would be expected simply from looking at its body-size, it's a fair assumption that the animal is more intelligent than the average animal. Google EQ (Encephalisation Quotient).

-> Brain size or body ratio is not an indicator of intelligence. This was part of the concept of "Social Darwinism," a racial fallacy FIRMLY debunked during the early 1800s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craniometry#Cranial_capacity.2C_races_and_19th-20th_century_scientific_ideas

->Dolphins are not quintessential examples of peaceful intelligence. Think of them more like a lion pride than a pot-smoking hippie.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3323070/Killer-dolphins-baffle-marine-experts.html

->And since we've now considered dolphins in the context of a group working together for a less than noble pursuit, check out the next link. I couldn't find the article I remembered in a published print thingy, so I had to settle on the academic paper that the article referenced. Probably better that way :)
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro04/web1/eberdan.html

Yep. Dolphins rape and in fact gang bang young females.

** "Never trust an animal that smiles all the time." -Terry Pratchett, referring to dolphins.


Chris
Posted 04 December 2012 at 04:59 pm

The Brain-to-Body mass ratio has been found to not be a significant predictor of intelligence in all cases - although it is usually a good indicator in most scenarios. For instance, chihuahua's have a higher brain-to-body ratio than humans, and they certainly aren't more intelligent than us.


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