Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cetacean Intelligence, Part One

Dolphins in the military (Creative Commons Photo)

030318-N-5319A-002.Central Command Area of Responsibility (Mar. 18, 2003) -- K-Dog, a Bottle Nose Dolphin belonging to Commander Task Unit (CTU) 55.4.3, leaps out of the water in front Sgt. Andrew Garrett while training near the USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) in the Arabian Gulf. CTU-55.4.3 is a multi-national team consisting of Naval Special Clearance Team-One, Fleet Diving Unit Three from the United Kingdom, Clearance Dive Team from Australia, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units Six and Eight (EODMU-6 and -8). These units are conducting deep/shallow water mine countermeasure operations to clear shipping lanes for humanitarian relief. CTU-55.4.3 and USS Gunston Hall are currently forward deployed conducting missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the multinational coalition effort to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and end the regime of Saddam Hussein. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer?s Mate 1st Class Brien Aho. (RELEASED).

Although we are accustomed to seeing highly trained cetaceans in the entertainment industry, they are also trained to assist in military projects.

But their intelligence goes much farther and deeper than simple training, as defined by scientists. M.P. Simmonds in Applied Animal Behaviour Science 100 (2006) 103–116 113, has summarized the features that scientists look for in determining intelligence across species lines, and have found in many dolphins and whales:

"A summary of evidence for higher cognitive functioning in cetaceans"

"i. High level of encephalisation, including very well developed cerebellum in many species

ii. Long lives and long periods of parental care (evidence of post-reproductive care-givers)--exploiters of typically patchy and unpredictable prey

iii. Ability to learn complex behaviours and solve problems

iv. Ability to improvise/innovate

v. Tool use (but not tool manufacture)

vi. Vocal and behavioural imitation

vii. Ability to learn artificial languages (limited vocabulary but understand grammar and syntax)

viii. Many species exhibit closely co-ordinated behaviours

ix. Many species have complex social interactions

x. Evidence of self awareness, awareness of others, including emotional responses

xi. Cultural transmission of information"

The next post will cover the biology of their adaptations to the marine environment that are associated with their brain development.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I aint surpised that with all that intelligence the navy uses them as slaves.


Candace Calloway Whiting