One Generation in, Dolphins Still Transmit Human Tricks

Allison Guy
August 4th 2012

Dolphins in Port Adelaide, Australia, have been observed performing a remarkable trick: tail-walking, a trait so rare it has only been seen in the wild one other time. More remarkable still, these dolphins seem to have picked up this move from Billie, a female dolphin who briefly lived in a tourist attraction before being returned to the wild. Billie, who learned this skill from human trainers, has now taught it to her calves, and to another adult female and her calves. In animals, most cultural transmission of behavior is linked to finding food. Chimpanzees fishs for termites, and certain groups of dolphins hydroplane to catch fish. The behavior of Billie and her companions is unusual in that it is performed just for fun. Dolphins' reputation for playfulness may be well-deserved.

Thanks to Tensai Hilra for the tip. Photo via Jared422_80.

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