News / Science & Technology

    Study: Dolphins Remember Each Other for Decades

    File -  Dolphins  are seen at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill.  (AP Photo/Chicago Zoological Society, Jim Schulz)
    File - Dolphins are seen at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Chicago Zoological Society, Jim Schulz)
    VOA News
    Dolphins, not elephants, may have the best memories of any non-human species.

    In a new study, scientists say dolphins in captivity have shown an ability to recognize former tank mates’ whistles even after being apart from them for more than 20 years.

    The study, done by researchers at the University of Chicago, shows that dolphins have the longest social memory ever recorded for non-humans. According to the study, dolphins’ skills in recognizing the whistle sounds may be better than humans' facial recognition skills because human faces change over time.

    “This shows us an animal operating cognitively at a level that’s very consistent with human social memory,” said Jason Bruck, a specialist in comparative human development, who conducted the study.

    His study is published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.

    Bruck collected data from 53 bottlenose dolphins at six facilities that were part of a breeding consortium that kept decades of records on which dolphins had lived together.

    Bruck compared the dolphins’ reactions to whistles of former tank mates with those of dolphins that were not familiar with each other. His initial studies showed that “dolphins get bored quickly listening to signature whistles from dolphins they don’t know.”

    “When they hear a dolphin they know, they often quickly approach the speaker playing the recording,” Bruck said. “At times they will hover around, whistle at it, try to get it to whistle back.”

    Bruck said dolphins even responded to calls they had not heard in decades.

    In one notable example, Bruck played a recording of a female dolphin named Allie, who currently lives at the Brookfield Zoo, for Bailey, a female now in Bermuda.

    The pair had last lived together at Dolphin Connection in the Florida Keys when Allie was two years old and Bailey was four. But 20 years and six months after their last contact, Bailey still recognized the recording of Allie’s signature whistle.

    “Why do they need this kind of memory? I’m not sure they do,” Bruck said. “The cognitive abilities of dolphins are really well-developed, and sometimes things like this are carry-along traits. But to test whether this kind of social memory capacity is adaptive, we would need more demographic data from multiple populations in the wild to see if they experience 20-year separations.”

    Here's a video about the experiment:


    You May Like

    Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Nakameguro, TKO
    August 10, 2013 9:34 AM
    Dolphins need not meet so many mates in their life, so they are able to remember a few old mates for a long time.
    Why does mass media like topics about dolphins, especially that dolphins may have some good abilities like human beings? Does they really think dolphins and human beings can communicate in the near future?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora