Are Dolphins Smarter Than You?

Darwin the Dolphin was a member of the crew on SeaQuest DSV.  Through some highly advanced technology similar to Google Translate, he was able to talk to his human crewmates, and occasionally he was sent on missions wearing a specially designed scuba suit.

Darwin from SeaQuest DSV

While we still haven’t found a way to talk to dolphins, researchers in Australia say they’ve observed a surprising, new dolphin behavior.  Only a few years ago, they noticed a few dolphins using conch shells to help them fish.  The dolphins catch fish in the shells then bring them to the surface and dump the fish into their mouths.

Since then, researchers have noticed more and more dolphins using conch shells.  It’s as though one clever dolphin invented a new technique and the others imitated it.  Or perhaps this clever dolphin told his friends what he’d done and showed it to them, and the news spread through the dolphin community.  Whatever happened, it’s the first time we’ve seen another species invent a new tool.

Obviously, the dolphins didn’t invent conch shells.  They don’t have opposable thumbs, so we can’t expect them to make bows and arrows any time soon.  But in the beginning, our ancestors probably used objects they found in nature as tools.  Early humans didn’t invent small rocks and wooden sticks, but they found ways to use them.  Dolphins may be at a similar early stage of technological development.

Of course, fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide know dolphins are only the second smartest species on Earth, and humans are the third.  Mice are the real masters of this planet.

For more on what these clever dolphins are up to, click here.

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