Dolphins have names
Naming other people is a skill — just ask William and Kate, who are either keeping Royal Baby’s name secret or haven’t figured it out yet. It’s a skill that we like to think is distinctly human. But dolphins do it, too, and new research from the University of St. Andrews looked, for the first time, at what happens when a dolphin hears its own name.
It had been long suspected that dolphins use distinctive whistles in much the same way that humans use names.
Previous research found that these calls were used frequently, and dolphins in the same groups were able to learn and copy the unusual sounds.
In this new study, researchers identified dolphins’ names or “signature whistles.” Then they played recordings of those whistles, other random whistles from that dolphin group and “signature whistles” from another dolphin group. The dolphins only responded to their own whistles.
So, fine, we’re not the only species that has names and uses them. But do dolphins know anything about dynasties or primogeniture? Because until they figure out how to name their babies Click-click-click the XIX, we’re not impressed.
Get Grist in your inbox