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Dolphin Memories Span At Least 20 Years 110

sciencehabit writes "A new study reveals that bottlenose dolphins can remember each other's signature contact whistles — calls that function as names — for more than 20 years, the longest social memory ever recorded for a nonhuman animal. 'The ability to remember individuals is thought to be extremely important to the "social brain,"' says Janet Mann, a marine mammal biologist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the research. Yet, she notes, no one has succeeded in designing a test for this talent in the great apes — our closest kin — let alone in dolphins."
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Dolphin Memories Span At Least 20 Years

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  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:14PM (#44501187) Homepage

    A choice quote:

    Now, think about that. If you call out "Geoff Pullum!" in a crowded street, and I'm there within earshot, I'm likely to turn round and look at you. But what I am not likely to do is yell "Geoff Pullum!" back at you.

    Why can't dolphins do intelligent and interesting things without people applying unfounded anthropomorphic qualities to their behavior?

    Um... that's exactly what the author you quote does - assumes that since humans wouldn't do it, dolphins wouldn't do it either.
    As kind of a side note, the behavior he claims humans don't do is much like how we often communicated in the Navy when we couldn't see or look at the person we wanted to talk to.... If I was doing something I couldn't take my eyes off of or needed to get the attention of someone who was in earshot but not in sight, I'd call out "Clark!", and the expected rely was "Clark, Aye!" - indicating that he's heard me and was paying attention.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982