Are Dolphins and Whales as Smart as People?

The intelligence of mammals both on land has been a topic of interest for a long time. The chimpanzee, the elephant, and the Dolphins have all been categorized as intelligent mammals. The dolphins and whales in particular feature profoundly and the study of their intelligence are called cetacean intelligence. This encompasses, the dolphin, whale, and porpoise. The dolphin has shown intelligence capabilities of a numerical nature, with a special affinity for numbers. They cannot count as humans do or predict the next figure but they do display a discrimination between numbers.

Dolphins also have a ‘dialect’ of sorts. A special call they use to identify each other and share their location called an echolocation. This echolocation varies with the species of dolphin and it can be used to identify the different dolphins. Dolphins group together in clans called pods, with some species being as few as 6-12 in number to a few hundred individuals. The echolocation of a dolphin from a different pod, allows them to know the other species and they choose to mates with species outside their pod. This is a method of identification. For example, marrying outside your community or tribe. They have also demonstrated the ability to learn creative tricks and make creative responses. This is evident at waterpark zoos where dolphins often perform for visitors.

Although dolphins showcase increased mammal intelligence, they are not smarter than human beings. As for whales, they have also proven to be smart mammals. In fact, the sperm whale has the largest brain of any mammal. The size of the brain used to be a clear indicator of mammalian intelligence but this has since been reviewed and now there are more factors in consideration when determining intelligence. Nonetheless, whales have a special language for communication. They are known to produce harmonious melodies miles apart from each other in perfect synchrony. The toothed whale communicates in more high-pitched clicks and whistles.

Dolphins can make distinctions of these sounds and can identify which dolphin in the pod is speaking even among hundreds. The varied pitches and speeds in their sounds can be compared to humans having a conversation. The same spindle cells found in humans, apes, and elephants are also found in these cetacean mammals. This is part of the reason why they are so intelligent that they can come up with their own ‘whale songs’ as their melodies are commonly referred. Dolphins can also gesture to one another and even recognize marks and themselves when placed in front of a mirror.

 All said it takes more than high pitched notes to make these aquatic mammals more intelligent than human beings. We learn much faster and communicate much better. It is obvious that we are an innovative species far beyond any other mammal considering the milestones we have made in technology and infrastructure. Their intelligence is impressive as far as animals go, and as new technologies and research continue to be developed to determine their level of intelligence, there is no saying what more can be discovered about them.

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