Intelligence and Language
- The Brain
- Old Stories
- The Big Question
Dolphins have very large and folded brains, which (besides the large body mass) suggest exceptional intellectual capacity. According to brain researcher Pilleri, it can be called into question whether or not the brains of Homo Sapiens(human) are the highest in the rankings. Dolphins are easily trained and they learn exceptionally fast.
However, recent research has shown that the amount of braincells found in dolphins is comparatively small. Scientists are coming to the conclusion that the dolphin is probably less intelligent than once thought. Humans have many more braincells and can therefore learn and think a lot quicker.
There are lots of old stories about dolphins that took place thousands of years ago. Telemachus, the son of navigator Odysseus, fell into the sea and he nearly drowned. Fortunately, a dolphin saved him and brought him ashore. As a result of this, he thanked the dolphin by engraving a dolphin onto his shield. There is another story, told by the Roman scientist Plinius, about a friendship between a little boy and a dolphin. The dolphin was so attracted to the little boy that the dolphin played with him and brought him to school every day.
These stories are very unrealistic for these times, and are completely discarded by modern scientists.
The Big Question
Dolphins are highly intelligent mammals. There are a lot of stories claiming that they have talents that are beyond Man's understanding and which are unresearchable.
There are trips which take incurable patients for a swim with dolphins, and these trips are believed to be able to cure their illnesses because dolphins are thought to bring forth ultrasonic sounds which have a healing function.
The myth about the healing therapy of dolphins can be explained as followed. Humans generally have a very strong willpower and this willpower is very important if one wants to achieve something. Let's say someone who has got cancer went to swim with a dolphin and he or she is convinced that this dolphin will cure his illness. Fueled by his own belief, his willpower to get well has increased and this will increase the chance that he will actually recover.
Many people also suggested that dolphins have a special liking for humans, meaning also that dolphins can get attached to a particular person. There was a dolphin who at first contact with a man constantly swam to him and implied that it wanted to be stroked. Once the man stroked it, he saw tears in its eyes, like it was crying with pleasure.
Just like humans can save other people from drowning, dolphins can do the same as well. There are also recent stories of people-saving dolphins. Is this because they want to be helpful, or is it instinct? People have also seen that they bring mattresses and other dolphins to shore. This innate behaviour makes it understandable that dolphins occasionally save people.
There has been a lot of research on the behaviour of dolphins. It seems that they have a lot in common with humans. If a dolphin is given a mirror to see itself, it pays attention to its looks. If for example, a black circle is stuck to its side, it will look at it with disgust.
So the big question now is: Why do dolphins do things that humans usually do? Are they really that intelligent?
Dolphins are surely intelligent creatures. But it is doubtful whether their intellectual capabilites exceed that of humans. Some say it is and others deny it. We have not come to a conclusion at this point of time. However, most people agree that the intelligence of a dolphin is comparable to that of a monkey.
Dolphins have a language to communicate with one another. It differs a lot from that of humans.
For an example, we use facial expressions as a way of communicating. When we are angry, this can be read from our facial or body expressions like clenching fists or frowning. When we are happy we smile, and sometimes we will raise our hands to show extreme happiness.
Dolphins cannot do all these. They can't make facial expressions and they can't do many actions with its body. The spoken language is another thing which dolphins can't use. They don't have vocal chords and the only body part that can create any sound is the blowhole. This makes it very difficult to communicate with one another. Researchers have tried deciphering the sounds of dolphins but nothing really significant has come out of their research.
Another example of a shaky communication is between the dog and the cat. They have the same ways of communicating but not the same language. When for example the dog wags its tail, it means that it is happy. When the cat uses this same signal, it is an indication of hostility. This is the reason that the communication between a dog and a cat falters.
There are two causes for bad communication. Firstly it is the different ways of communicating and secondly the different language. For the communication between people and dolphins, both factors clash. In the first case it is the different communicational methods which cause the clash. Secondly, it is the constant facial expression of dolphins and the incomprehensible sounds that a dolphin produces, of which humans can decipher almost nothing.
The only communication that exists is the movements that we make. This is very helpful in dolphinariums. When an attender turns, the dolphin has to follow. When the attender claps his hands, the dolphin will perform another trick. This is the only effective way of communication so far.