Dolphins have "names" they respond to

by jim mcnamara
Tags: dolphins, names, respond
jim mcnamara
jim mcnamara is offline
Jul23-13, 04:53 PM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 1,355
Bottlenose dolphins can use learned vocal labels to address each other:

Bottlenose dolphins use specific unique calls or whistles to refer to individuals, and each dolphin will respond to the special call for him/her. - my takeaway on the research. The animals create distinct sound patterns for each individual.

This is an early preprint. Things may change later on.
Phys.Org News Partner Biology news on
Stanford researchers rethink 'natural' habitat for wildlife
Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species
Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells
Pythagorean is offline
Jul23-13, 06:26 PM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,182
Janik's first experiment was in 2006:
Looks like this is his PhD student's dissertation (made into a paper)
Here's a review that mentions Janik's research as well as other interpretations of the observation:

It would be interesting to compare criticisms of Janik's interpretations to any new considerations taken in this experiment.
256bits is offline
Jul24-13, 03:53 AM
P: 1,260
The animals create distinct sound patterns for each individual.
When you say that, do you mean that one dolphin can call another with a specific call, changing the pattern to call a different dolphin. Or do you mean that a particular dolphin itself has a specific call that other dolphins can recognize and respond to.

Is this that much different than a mother animal recognizing its own offsprings call and the offspring recognizing the mother's call?

yenchin is offline
Jul24-13, 06:49 AM
P: 534

Dolphins have "names" they respond to

Here's an interesting related TeD talk:
jim mcnamara
jim mcnamara is offline
Jul24-13, 09:52 AM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 1,355
@256bits - My take is: they are distinct sound patterns like fwee-ooo for dolphin #9, and every other dolphin in the pod knows what fwee-ooo refers to.

Read the article, I could be wrong.

This means: there could be confusion when mega-pods form and there are multiple fwee-ooo's present, just like the announcer in a filled college football stadium who says, 'Charlie, your left your lights on'.
fleebell is offline
Jul24-13, 07:06 PM
P: 25
You meant that as humourous but what makes you think that they don't have last names too?

"fwee-ooo" might just be from pod "ooo-eee-fwa-eee"

Personally I think any animal that is smart enough to interact with others in subjects other than just eating and mating probably does have the concept of 'me' and if so they will have either vocal or other methods of communication such as ear or nose wiggles, shoulder movements, tail movements, etc...... Mankind is not the only intelligent creature on this planet. We might be the smartest in comparison but that's as far as it goes. Most other intelligent animals do their best to stay away from us except domesticated dogs , cats and birds... which indicates to me that they aren't as stupid as people might think.
jim mcnamara
jim mcnamara is offline
Jul24-13, 09:23 PM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 1,355
I don't think anything - nobody really knows at this point.

Speculation is not real science.‎ Anthropomorphizing is transferring human ideas and symbols to other species to decode other species behavior.

Example: When chimpanzees make a "smile" face it is not necessarily a positive expression.

see There is something called the ChimpFACS you can google for, but learning chimp facial expressions is not easy. The interpretations of expressions are derived from the facial musculature used in primates to make expressions. Map that to human expressions/musculature use, which we do understand.

This whole topic is analagous to decoding a radio communication from the proverbial "little green man" out there 5000ly away. We are still in the touchy-feely stage, IMO.
Pythagorean is offline
Jul25-13, 08:17 AM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,182
You say that they have names, skeptics say you're anthropomorphizing; you say they don't, ethics boards will say you're anthropocentric.

Register to reply

Related Discussions
Does "Slow" Light Respond to Gravity General Physics 15
How to respond to "too long" internet communications when you don't have time? General Discussion 22
TV weather reporters with "appropriate" names? General Discussion 17
Call them DOLPHINS (not "dwarf planets") General Astronomy 3
Dolphins know each other names Biology 5