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New Brain Claim Divides Dolphin Experts


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CONTROVERSIAL research claiming dolphins are marine dimwits rather than among the most intelligent of animals has split Australian scientists.

The scientific and marine conservation communities were divided yesterday in response to a South African academic's research showing dolphins are less intelligent than lab rats or goldfish.

The study, by the University of the Witwatersrand's Paul Manger, claims the large brains of marine mammals such as dolphins and whales are to help cope with being warm-blooded in cold water and not a sign of intelligence.

He argues the dolphin, widely regarded as one of the smartest mammals, does not display enough sophistication in its behaviour to show any more intelligence than a lab rat or goldfish.

"When you look at the structure of the dolphin brain you see it is not built for complex information processing," Professor Manger said.

"You put an animal in a box, even a lab rat or gerbil, and the first thing it wants to do is climb out of it. If you don't put a lid on top of the bowl a goldfish will eventually jump out.

"But a dolphin will never do that. In the marine parks the dividers to keep the dolphins apart are only a foot or two above the water between the different pools."

Why not? Because, Professor Manger says, the thought would simply not cross their minds.

Australia's Dolphin Research Institute conservation director Jeff Weir said people tended to get angry when new evidence came to light about dolphins' character.

"There's something special about them that has fascinated people for thousands of years," he said. "But there's little evidence they're as intelligent as everyone wanted to believe.

"It's not consistent with what people want to believe - and they get upset when it's not true."

Geneticist Dr Bill Sherwin, from the University of NSW, said groups of dolphins now being studied showed the most complex social behaviour outside the human realm.

"They do have pretty complicated behaviour. There's nothing complex in chimpanzees, orang-utans or gorillas," he said.

"I've worked with a number of different species and dolphins definitely look like they're thinking about you, and reacting to you and other things in their environment.

"This is compared to another species I worked with, the bandicoot, where you could stand there and they would repeatedly run into your legs.

"When you watch dolphins interacting in groups, it's like watching office politics. The male alliances constantly change - it must take some sort of brain capacity to do that sort of thing."

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Im not sure about Dolphins not being as smart or clever as a lab rat,

this professor came to this opinion bcoz,Dolphins dont jump out of the

water and over a devider into another pool,but a rat is smart bcoz

it can jump out of a box if it doesnt have a lid.

Would you blame a Dolphin if it didnt want to leave an environment

that it is comfortable in and leap thru the air to land in another pool

that is hopefully full of water,and know that while it is in mid air it has

no control over where it lands,and knows that if something were not

right it cant just simply slam on the brakes in mid air and turn back to

where he came from.

Would a rat leave his comfortable box if he had to dive underwater,

and under a devider and come up on the other side again to get to

another box? I doubt it.But I have seen them walk up to cats,Goannas

and snakes and have a quick smell of these predators,just before the

lights went out.Thats real inteligent.

:beersmile: penguin

Edited by penguin
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Guest danielinbyron

if stupid is as stuuuupid duz..... they got the jump on us proffessor..

ps i've seen dolphins herd whales away from the beach at tallows twice now.... literally guide them back out the deeper water... and hows about the group of new zealand school kidz that were herded up away from the shark last year....maybe this guys missin something .....stiil i'd prefer not to see em when i'm fishing..

Edited by danielinbyron
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