Study finds dolphins teach and learn predatory skills to their peers

Dolphins, known as one of the smartest animals on the planet, have previously been observed using tools to lure prey and play. But in a new study published in Current Biology, scientists also found that they teach and learn from each other. Clearly, this study will help to enhance our understanding of the society and behavior of highly intelligent species.

Study finds dolphins teach and learn predatory skills to their peers

Screenshot from video (from: Sonja Wild)

Australian researchers point out that, like many mammals, dolphins learn how to use tools and become better hunters.

Traditional views are mostly given to children by mothers, but the strong social fabric of dolphins may bring more benefits to them.

This article in Current Biology focuses on a specific behavior called shelling.

Some dolphins use the technology to use large conch, and researchers have found that they seem to observe and learn skills from each other.

Using web-based diffusion analysis (NBDA), the researchers wrote that “shelling” behavior was taught primarily through non-direct social structures.

After considering environmental and genetic factors, the study appears to give the first evidence that non-direct systems teach foraging strategies. It shows that dolphins have a variety of ways to teach foraging behavior, highlighting the essential similarity between whales and primates in the teaching of cultural behavior.

Dolphins learn foraging skills from peers (via)

The so-called ‘non-direct transfer’ refers specifically to the teaching and learning of skills or knowledge from outside of the parents. The behavior of dolphins learning from their peers reveals that this phenomenon is not unique to primates.

During the hunt, dolphins chase their prey (usually fish) into the empty shell of a giant belly-footed animal, which then stomps it into the water so that food can pass smoothly into the mouth.

Sonja Wild, who led the study, said in a statement that they were surprised. Details of the study have been published in the recently published journal Current Biology.

Originally published as Integrating Genetic, Environmental, and Social Networks to Reveal Networks of the A Dolphin For Innovation.