Credit: Amy Lizee

Dolphins are a species of marine mammal that are related to whales and porpoises. The most common and most recognizable species of dolphin is the Bottlenose Dolphin, which is the largest species of dolphin and habit temperate and tropical waters around the world.  These dolphins also happen to be very intelligent, possessing a larger brain then that of humans. So what does this mean?

Dolphins are considered to be one of the most intelligent species of mammals on the planet. These dolphins are extremely gifted at mimicry and have an amazing aptitude for understanding among other things. However, some of their most interesting intellectual traits include the following.

Credit: Amy Lizee

They Recognize Their Reflection

For mammals in general, there are only a few species who are able to recognize their own reflections and is found only in great apes with the biggest brains, such as chimpanzees and orangutans. In fact, even human babies only develop this ability when they are between 18 and 24 months of age. In several studies done, it was determined that dolphins possess the intellectual understanding to know when they are seeing themselves, for example, in a mirror, which makes them the first non-primate animal who have been currently discovered to possess this ability. In some studies, scientists even drew patterns on the dolphins backs and observed them reviewing their own bodies in mirrored surfaces around the tank.

They Can Feel Empathy

There have been several counts of dolphins saving people from drowning. When scientists began to examine why this was, they determined that it is because dolphin’s have a great capacity to feel empathy due to their brains containing similar spindle cells to humans. This means that they can understand what it would be like to drown, which prompts them to do what they can to help.  Similarly to helping humans, they also treat members of their pod differently. For example, those members who may be disabled are rarely exposed to displays of aggression.

They Call Each Other By Name

A third and equally amazing thing that leads scientists to see dolphins as being one of the most intelligent creatures on Earth, after humans, is the fact that they seem to call each other by name. It was discovered that dolphins in fact communicate with each other by mimicking the whistle of another dolphin, which scientists have determined is not just a whistle, but in fact a name - something that is unheard of in the animal kingdom, apart from humans. This mimicking is not frequent as it is in humans, but rather used to reunite with members of their pod if they are separated.

Scientists have deemed their intelligence to stem from the size of their brains relative to their body and are learning more and more about their intelligence and behaviours. Some even think they should be classified as “non-human persons” and granted rights.

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