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Whales, dolphins have rich 'human-like' cultures: Study

London, Oct 17 (IANS) Whales and dolphins live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects, much like human societies, according to a study.

The findings revealed that these intelligent creatures (also called Cetaceans) have sophisticated social and cooperative behaviour traits, such as regional group dialects, looking after friends’ children and teaching each other how to use tools.

Further, vocal mimicry and ‘signature whistles’ used by dolphins to make a call associated with an individual when they’re not there, suggests they too gossip about each other.

Importantly, these societal and cultural characteristics are linked with brain size and brain expansion — also known as encephalisation, the researchers said, in the paper published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

“The apparent co-evolution of brains, social structure, and behavioural richness of marine mammals provides a unique and striking parallel to the large brains and hyper-sociality of humans and other primates on land,” said Susanne Shultz, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Manchester in the UK.

For the study, the team compiled information on 90 different species of dolphins, whales and porpoises.

Cetaceans share many traits with humans, including an ability to work with each other for mutual benefit, hunt cooperatively and interact with different species.

However, unfortunately they do not possess opposable thumbs — human thumbs which can be moved around, and enable one to grasp things — so they will never be able to mimic our great metropolises and technologies, researchers noted.

–IANS
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