Saturday, January 15, 2011

How Smart Are Dolphins? (Video) *Meet Tanner & his amazing ability*


Tanner the Dolphin
Born at the Dolphin Research Center in March 2002, is the son of Santini and A.J. He is the youngest baby dolphin to start target pole training at just three weeks old. Tanner is a regular participant in research projects as well as Dolphin Encounter and other programs

How Smart Are Dolphins? Meet Tanner & His Amazing Ability

Tanner the 8-year old bottlenose dolphin has proven to be very intelligent. He can find and retrieve rings by echolocation, with cups over his eyes. However, "dolphin smarts go way beyond ring retrieval". Emily Guarino, Tanner's trainer, says, "Monkey see, monkey do - that's a myth. It turns out the animal best able to imitate, other than humans, is the dolphins."

In another study, Tanner was paired with another dolphin, a male named Kibby. Tanner was given the hand gesture that means "imitate" and then his eyes were covered with cups. Kibby was then signaled to do a specific behavior. Kibby waved his tail and Tanner, not being able to see, "imitates him perfectly".  The behaviors are all pre-taught, such as splashing the water or running the lagoon. "But with his eyes blindfolded, Tanner has no idea which behavior Kibby is doing. How does Tanner do it? Maybe it's his sonar or he is picking up the characteristic sound made by the behavior."

"Researchers say the dolphins' cognitive ability to understand what it means to imitate and then carry it out is amazing." Kelly Jaakkola, Director of Research at the Dolphin Research Center, notes "That shows a kind of problem-solving flexibility that we haven't seen anywhere else." During the actual research project, Tanner successfully imitated the behaviors more than 58% of the time. This rules out luck or chance.

CNN "Dolphin See, Dolphin Do" Just how smart is a dolphin? CNN's John Zarrella introduces you to Tanner and his amazing ability.

Dolphin Research Center, Marathon, Florida
The Dolphin Research Center (DRC) is a not-for-profit education and research facility, home to a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. Over half of our family was born at the Center, while the other members either have come to us from other facilities, or were collected long ago by other management.

Dolphin Research Center Blog
Twenty-five years of Teaching, Learning, Caring for marine mammals and the environment we share.

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