Dolphins: Culture

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There’s strong evidence that intelligent animals such as chimpanzees can learn something new and pass that information on from one generation to the next. Well, some scientists are calling this learned behavior a form of culture. And it’s possible that dolphins may share this trait as well. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Diana Reis is a senior research scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the NY Aquarium. In the background, we’re listening to underwater sounds produced by dolphins

“There’s some interesting new reports, and also speculation, that dolphins and whales may show signs of culture, which means that they’re learning new behaviors – that behaviors are being passed through communities, or groups of animals. We need to be pretty careful about how we interpret this – but it’s pretty exciting – some of the things that are coming out right now – the ideas are that animals can learn through observation, that there may be some explicit teaching as well. These animals clearly can learn through observation. There’ve been early reports about one animal for example, learning behaviors of another animal in a public aquarium. In my own experience, I’ve seen animals learn by observation. So when you watch mothers and their infants, you can actually see the mother doing something and then the infant doing it after the mother does it. Or seeing another animal imitated afterwards. So whether this is a mechanism for cultural acquisition, the acquisition of different behaviors, it’s a very interesting area of research.”

To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

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Dolphins: Culture

Researchers believe that some dolphin behavior is akin to culture.
Air Date:10/19/2001
Scientist:
Transcript:


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There's strong evidence that intelligent animals such as chimpanzees can learn something new and pass that information on from one generation to the next. Well, some scientists are calling this learned behavior a form of culture. And it's possible that dolphins may share this trait as well. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Diana Reis is a senior research scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the NY Aquarium. In the background, we're listening to underwater sounds produced by dolphins

"There’s some interesting new reports, and also speculation, that dolphins and whales may show signs of culture, which means that they’re learning new behaviors - that behaviors are being passed through communities, or groups of animals. We need to be pretty careful about how we interpret this - but it’s pretty exciting - some of the things that are coming out right now - the ideas are that animals can learn through observation, that there may be some explicit teaching as well. These animals clearly can learn through observation. There’ve been early reports about one animal for example, learning behaviors of another animal in a public aquarium. In my own experience, I’ve seen animals learn by observation. So when you watch mothers and their infants, you can actually see the mother doing something and then the infant doing it after the mother does it. Or seeing another animal imitated afterwards. So whether this is a mechanism for cultural acquisition, the acquisition of different behaviors, it’s a very interesting area of research."

To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music