Tuesday, January 5, 2010 3:23 PM cstanton

Dolphins Are So Smart Scientists Want to Call Them People


Ever since Flipper came out its been apparent that dolphins are very smart creatures. By the looks of it you would assume their intelligence quotient lies somewhere between that of a monkey and a fish. Assuming that would put one very far off though. According to the research of Diana Reiss and Lori Marino, they're actually smarter than chimps, and soooo smart that these seemingly intelligent oceanographers say that they should be considered "non-human people."

Fanatics as they more than likely are, they might have something there. After all, its been discovered that they can talk, have sex for pleasure, and... isn't that all you need to be a person? I mean... we have humans that can't even do that and we consider them people. 

“Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size,” is what Marino of Emory University told the UK Times. She's been using magnetic resonance imaging to take pictures of dolphin brains and compare them to that of primates and humans. She's found that when you correct for body size, dolphins brains are second in mass only to humans.

She also found that their brains share a lot of common traits, including intricate folds in the cortex, which expands the volume of the cortex and allows, at least in humans, the ability for better memory recall and faster neurological transactions. 

Apparently each dolphin has a sense of self, has its own personality, and can think about the future. That's more than a lot of humans can say for themselves. 

Diana Reiss has done some studying of her own on the bottlenose dolphins and has discovered that they can recognize themselves in mirrors and inspect different parts of their bodies, an ability that we thought was limited to humans and great apes. 

“Despite evolving along a different neuroanatomical trajectory to humans, cetacean brains have several features that are correlated with complex intelligence,” Marino said.

Marino also observed some behavior that suggests that they are cultural creatures, easily learning from one another. A rescued dolphin was taken to a dolphinarium in Australia where it was nursed back to health. The dolphin had injured flippers and could not swim without reinjuring them, so the caretakers taught it to "tail-walk" along the bottom and come straight up for air when it needed. When the dolphin was released, the tail-walking spread like wild-fire and they observed many other dolphins displaying the same behavior in the wild. 

Thomas White, the professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles suggests that it is only ethical, and that's his specialty, to give dolphins rights as individuals. “The scientific research . . . suggests that dolphins are ‘non-human persons’ who qualify for moral standing as individuals," he said.

All three of these dolphin enthusiasts will be speaking at a conference in San Diego next month and making public all of their studies.

Over 300,000 cetaceans, dolphins and whales alike, are killed annually in fishing accidents or in horror renditions of Free Willy. This is horribly unethical and I don't think that we should kill mammals with a means of communication or emotion or animals that have sex for pleasure, but I really don't see how us admitting that they're so smart they should be people will really stop any of the killing. And they can't really be represented as people with rights or anything because they don't have the means to speak, we don't have ears to understand them, and they don't really have any hands to write anything down with.

 Basically all that this has me feeling is guilty that dolphins are dying and that they're smart enough to undergo the stress of us top-dwellers slowly wiping them out. SAVE THE CETACEANS!

From the UK TIMES

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