31st Dec 2013
A Dolphin by Any Other Name
You probably know that dolphins use sounds like whistles and clicks to hunt and communicate, but you might not know that every dolphin has what’s called a “signature whistle”. From four to six months old, young dolphins develop a unique whistle, and they use this distinctive vocal pattern consistently throughout their lives.
For a while, researchers were unsure about its purpose, but work by biologists Stephanie King and Vincent Janik of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews confirmed that these whistles are used as identity markers. Following groups of bottlenose dolphins off the east coast of Scotland, they used hydrophones to detect their sounds and to record signature whistles. As control, King and Janik broadcasted unfamiliar whistles to the dolphins, which they ignored—but when their own signature whistles were played, modified slightly so it sounded like a different dolphin was calling, they whistled back and even began to swim towards the sound.
This suggests that they use them to address or identify each other—as King said, these results “present the first case of naming in mammals, providing a clear parallel between dolphin and human communication.” Sometimes upon hearing their own whistles, the dolphins just repeated it as if to say ‘I’m here!’, and other times they responded with a string of other whistles.
According to King, “The next step is to look into the function of non-signature whistles to gain an even greater insight into their complex communication system.”

A Dolphin by Any Other Name

You probably know that dolphins use sounds like whistles and clicks to hunt and communicate, but you might not know that every dolphin has what’s called a “signature whistle”. From four to six months old, young dolphins develop a unique whistle, and they use this distinctive vocal pattern consistently throughout their lives.

For a while, researchers were unsure about its purpose, but work by biologists Stephanie King and Vincent Janik of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews confirmed that these whistles are used as identity markers. Following groups of bottlenose dolphins off the east coast of Scotland, they used hydrophones to detect their sounds and to record signature whistles. As control, King and Janik broadcasted unfamiliar whistles to the dolphins, which they ignored—but when their own signature whistles were played, modified slightly so it sounded like a different dolphin was calling, they whistled back and even began to swim towards the sound.

This suggests that they use them to address or identify each other—as King said, these results “present the first case of naming in mammals, providing a clear parallel between dolphin and human communication.” Sometimes upon hearing their own whistles, the dolphins just repeated it as if to say ‘I’m here!’, and other times they responded with a string of other whistles.

According to King, “The next step is to look into the function of non-signature whistles to gain an even greater insight into their complex communication system.”

This post has 309 notes
  1. lexikinnz reblogged this from sciencesoup
  2. laughlinesforcutie reblogged this from sciencesoup
  3. smallthingsreasonstosmile reblogged this from sciencesoup
  4. herecomesmoe reblogged this from sciencesoup
  5. peaceful-warrior-forever reblogged this from sciencesoup
  6. jessieunderthesea reblogged this from sciencesoup
  7. greythegryphon reblogged this from sciencesoup
  8. spacemankistarzero reblogged this from sciencesoup
  9. daniellestitt reblogged this from typethedragon
  10. dolphin-dolphi reblogged this from sciencesoup
  11. angelofghetto reblogged this from naturesdoorways and added:
    A delfinek testtömeghez viszonyított agytérfogat aránya még az emberénél is nagyobb. Olyan elvont fogalmakat is tudnak...
  12. softwiings reblogged this from naturesdoorways
  13. glassdragon reblogged this from typethedragon
  14. land-of-unearthly-light reblogged this from spiderinthecupboard
  15. typethedragon reblogged this from naturesdoorways
  16. spiderinthecupboard reblogged this from naturesdoorways
  17. hellolovelyscientist reblogged this from naturesdoorways
  18. psherman42wallabywaysydney22 reblogged this from naturesdoorways
  19. lotusendebabies reblogged this from naturesdoorways
  20. naturesdoorways reblogged this from sciencesoup
  21. mistressriveroftardis reblogged this from sciencesoup
  22. erysichthon reblogged this from sciencesoup and added:
    A Dolphin by Any Other Name You probably know that dolphins use sounds like whistles and clicks to hunt and communicate,...
  23. lalalakaitlyn reblogged this from sciencesoup
  24. happy-snail reblogged this from sciencesoup and added:
    Good bye and thanks for all the fish! Lol
  25. motteprinzessin reblogged this from sciencesoup
  26. bourchet reblogged this from sciencesoup
  27. jjkuniverse reblogged this from sciencesoup
  28. anadice-cat reblogged this from sciencesoup
  29. flaymeformypleasure reblogged this from sciencesoup
  30. bethjpalik reblogged this from sciencesoup
  31. orangejuicegod reblogged this from sciencesoup
  32. wolves-barzo reblogged this from sciencesoup
  33. fish-again reblogged this from sciencesoup
  34. a-roundabout reblogged this from sciencesoup