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Dolphins Know Their Own Names

Intelligent animals, like dogs and cats, recognize their names. A parrot will generally tell you his name if you ask him. But dolphins do even more?they give THEMSELVES names, then they send that name out through the depths of the ocean in order to tell other dolphins "hello."

A dolphin's name may sound like a series of whistles to us, but it's recognizable by other dolphins. Like some human languages (such as Chinese), understanding what is being said has to do with the way the words are pronounced?or in this case, in the frequencies of the whistles.

Dolphins are also one of the few animals that can recognize their name when it is said by someone else. Scientists used computers to "copy" dolphin names and found that the animals recognized them, even though individual voice references had been removed.

Whales sing to one another and elephants communicate by stomping their feet. Dolphins "talk" constantly, but while scientists always assumed some of these whistles identified sources of food, they didn't know what most of them were, until they realized they were keeping in touch with other dolphins by identifying themselves.

In LiveScience.com, Bjorn Carey quotes dolphin researcher Vincent Janik as saying, "Their repertoire of calls probably numbers in the hundreds?for most of them we [still] have no idea what they're for."

Since whales and dolphins live in the ocean, yet breathe air, scientists think that their ancestors tried out life on land, then decided it was better to return to the water, in a kind of reverse evolution.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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