What’s your ‘dolphin name’? A new scientific study indicates that like humans, dolphins use ‘names’ to identify and communicate with other dolphins in their crew.
In male dolphin alliances, ‘everybody knows your name’
It’s not uncommon in dolphin society for males to form long-lasting alliances with other males, sometimes for decades. Now, after studying bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia for more than 30 years, researchers report that these males retain individual vocal labels (or names) rather than sharing a common call with their cooperative partners…
The study showed that males in an alliance retain vocal labels that are quite distinct from one another, suggesting that those calls serve a purpose similar to an individual name.
“We found that male bottlenose dolphins that form long-term cooperative partnerships or alliances with one another retain individual vocal labels, or ‘names,’ which allows them to recognize many different friends and rivals in their social network. Our work shows that these ‘names’ help males keep track of their many different relationships: who are their friends, who are their friend’s friends, and who are their competitors.”
-Dr. Stephanie King, University of Western Australia
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Journal Reference: Stephanie L. King, Whitney R. Friedman, Simon J. Allen, Livia Gerber, Frants H. Jensen, Samuel Wittwer, Richard C. Connor, Michael Krützen. Bottlenose Dolphins Retain Individual Vocal Labels in Multi-level Alliances. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.013