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According to the Australian researchers who have picked up "dolphinese", the language shows the animals are more similar to humans that previously thought.
The scientists identified almost 200 different whistles that the dolphins make to communicate, and linked some to specific behaviours.
Biologist Dr Liz Hawkins and her colleagues listened to the chatter of wild bottlenose dolphins off the western coast of Australia for three years.
Dr Hawkins, of the whale research centre at Southern Cross University, New South Wales, said: "This communication is highly complex, and it is contextual, so in a sense it could be termed a language."
Dolphins were known to use "signature" whistles to identify themselves to others, but the meaning of the other whistles they make was a mystery.
Dr Hawkins recorded 1,647 whistles from 51 different groups of dolphins living in Byron Bay, New South Wales.
The biologist, who presented her work at a meeting of the Society for Marine Mammalogy in Cape Town, grouped all the whistles into five tonal classes and found that these groups, and even individual whistles, clearly went with different behaviours.
Dr Melinda Rekdahl, of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, said it was too early to know whether whistles might mean something specific, but added: "It is possible. Dolphin communication is much more complicated than we thought."
The research, the scientists claim, will lead to a reassessment of the social complexity of dolphins, raising moral questions over how those kept in captivity should be treated.
Originally posted by 0bserver1
For millions of years, dolphins have been communicating with each other, in peace.
Researchers have been studying the bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in Shark Bay, Western Australia for quite a long time because they are tame. They have observed male-male alliances that seem very stable. Male alliances are usually groups of two or three males that can last many years. The association coefficient for some pairs of males is in the same range as those found for mothers and their nursing calves(3).
So why do males form these alliances? The answer seems to greatly reflect human behavior: to get women. Male alliances typically "herd" females for anywhere from a few minutes to months(4) These herding events are not usually enjoyed by the females. Herding is often forcible with escape events and violence involved.(3) In a herding event males will surround the female or chase her. Aggression toward the female is common and can include: hitting with the tail, head-jerks, charging, biting, or body slamming.(3) Should the female try to escape, which often happens, the males will chase her more often than not. Of course the ultimate goal of a herding event is sex and the males in the alliance will take turns to make sure everyone has an equal share. If the alliance has three members, only 2 will herd the female and the third will stay behind. However, the individual who is left behind changes with every herding event so again all members have an equal chance at mating. (3)
Originally posted by Cloak and Dagger
Or maybe they are just primitive creatures on the verge of evolution, but still slave to their selfish biological drive.
Orcas are versatile and opportunistic predators. Some populations feed mostly on fish, and other populations hunt marine mammals, including sea lions, seals, and even large whales. There are up to five distinct Orca types, some of which may be separate subspecies or even species. Orcas are highly social; some populations are composed of matrilineal family groups which are the most stable of any animal species. The sophisticated social behaviour, hunting techniques, and vocal behaviour of Orcas have been described as manifestations of culture.
The voice of the dolphin in air is like that of the human, in that they can pronounce vowels, and combinations of vowels
Songs From The Sea: Deciphering Dolphin Language With Picture Words
ScienceDaily (Dec. 31, 2008) — In an important breakthrough in deciphering dolphin language, researchers in Great Britain and the United States have imaged the first high definition imprints that dolphin sounds make in water.
The key to this technique is the CymaScope, a new instrument that reveals detailed structures within sounds, allowing their architecture to be studied pictorially. Using high definition audio recordings of dolphins, the research team, headed by English acoustics engineer, John Stuart Reid, and Florida-based dolphin researcher, Jack Kassewitz, has been able to image, for the first time, the imprint that a dolphin sound makes in water. The resulting "CymaGlyphs," as they have been named, are reproducible patterns that are expected to form the basis of a lexicon of dolphin language, each pattern representing a dolphin 'picture word.'