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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 MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:23PM (#44500417)

    "Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons."

    I doubt they'd give us much trouble really, too busy mucking about having a good time.

  • by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:43PM (#44500715)

    "Is there a Jeff Pullum here?"
    "Yep, Jeff Pullum, right over here!"

    The protocol actually makes a lot of sense --- especially in a crowded street (or dolphin pod), where lots of people are calling out at once. If you just answered "here!," it would be easy to confuse with a bunch of other people answering "here!" to other calls for their own names. This mechanism provides a clear two-way authentication handshake that your response is directed specifically back to the initial caller (without needing to know their name). Just because it's not the protocol that you use, doesn't mean it's not a perfectly good idea.

  • Try 150 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @04:14PM (#44501921)

    Arctic bowhead whales live 150-200 years. One of the reason they're so shy around humans is that THEY REMEMBER BEING WHALED. Obviously these are the ones who got away, but over a century later these things are still swimming around.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @04:55PM (#44502331) Homepage
    Actually this was the part of the quote I was really looking at:

    While elephants are also reputed to have extremely long memories of up to 20 years

    "Reputed" implies that there's not much scientific evidence of this at all, with regard to either family or strangers.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.