Monday, 12 August 2013

Study: Dolphins can problem solve like humans

GRASSY KEY, Fla. (AP) — A dog may be man's best friend, but dolphins can imitate human actions, and even how they solve problems.

When a dolphin has one of its senses blocked, it can use other senses to mimic a human's movements, according to a recent study.

A bottlenose dolphin named Tanner was blindfolded and instructed to mimic the actions of a trainer in the water with him. When Tanner wasn't able to use sight to figure out the movement, he switched to another technique: emit sounds, listen to the echo and interpret the resulting sound waves. This ability — known as echolocation — allowed Tanner to replicate movements by the trainer, such as spinning in the water.

The study, conducted at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, expands on previous studies looking at how dolphins are able to imitate other dolphins while blindfolded. To see if a change in sound would affect their imitation, researchers used humans instead of dolphins to make the movements in the water.

Dr. Kelly Jaakkola, research director of the nonprofit marine mammal center, said researchers were surprised by Tanner's use of echolocation.

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