It is no secret that humanity is literally obsessed with finding fellow minds. This usually refers to extraterrestrial civilizations. On Earth, we already feel lonely. Meanwhile, many experts urge to look around and pay attention to those living creatures that already live on our planet. It is quite probable that fellows in reason already live next to us, we simply do not notice them or do not want to understand them. We are talking about dolphins, which are rightfully considered the second (along with chimpanzees) in terms of intelligence after humans creatures on Earth.
And although we have long known about their extraordinary capabilities, we carefully study animals, it seems that there are no less questions. Some interesting facts about dolphins.
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Dolphins are not fish, but animals of the artiodactyl order
It is naive to assume that all aquatic creatures with tails and fins should be considered fish. And although dolphins have a lot in common with them, they are much closer to us humans. These creatures are mammals belonging to the infraorder cetaceans. Moreover, according to scientific classification, dolphins belong to the artiodactyl order. The closest relatives of dolphins can be considered whales and sea cows, and a little more distant – hippos.
Unlike fish, dolphins have no scales, and the entire body is covered with smooth skin. And the fins have a different structure – they contain the humerus and something like the phalanges of the fingers. And dolphins even have hair inherent in mammals. The cubs have “antennae” that make it possible to find their mother. But over time, this vegetation disappears. Dolphins also have lungs, these creatures may well drown. Marine mammals do not spawn, but feed their young with milk.
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Dolphins and love
It turns out that love for dolphins is not an empty phrase either. Some species are very romantic – during courtship, males give females gifts in the form of algae, pieces of coral or a sponge. Of course, these items have no value, but the ritual itself is important. And some males look after differently – they keep their friends in solitude, driving them away from the family and even interfering with feeding. And all for the sake of consent to intimacy. And sexual frustration can turn dolphins into real killer machines.
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Dolphins in the army
The high intelligence of dolphins did not go unnoticed by the military. Who wouldn’t want to have a quick and smart underwater soldier at their disposal? A dolphin training program for military purposes existed in both the United States and the Soviet Union. At the same time, the animals performed different tasks: detecting sea mines, rescuing sailors after a shipwreck, and even identifying enemy underwater saboteurs. In the 1960s, dolphins were actively used by the American military in the search for sunken missile launch carts, warheads and training mines, and the installation of sophisticated underwater equipment. The use of these creatures turned out to be much more effective than the work of divers. In the same 1960s, publications appeared that the military was preparing real kamikaze from dolphins. The animals were supposed to spot enemy submarines and blow up those. However, the US naval command categorically denies the possibility of using dolphins to harm people.
And in the Soviet Union, the dolphin training program was classified.
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It is believed that dolphins have a poor sense of smell, but excellent vision and hearing. Echolocation is an important tool for dolphins, helping them navigate the water and find each other and their prey. Moreover, it is the sonar that makes it possible to recognize people due to the characteristic “response” of our skeleton. But these same waves help to see other human insides. A recent pregnancy will be easily identified by dolphins. That is why they react so joyfully and violently to women in position.
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It’s no secret that dolphins can reach speeds of 40-50 km / h in water. But these figures were a surprise for zoologists. Back in 1936, calculations were carried out that showed the maximum speed for animals with such physical indicators of 20 km / h. The English zoologist James Gray undertook to study the paradox. According to his calculations, it turned out that either dolphins should have muscles 8-10 times more powerful than those of a similar mammal, or dolphins, when moving in water, experience significantly less resistance relative to the physical model. But how can this be? This phenomenon became known as the Gray paradox. Over time, scientists have figured out how a dolphin controls its environment – soft skin dampens fluctuations in water and that smoothly, without eddies, flows around the body. This is facilitated by both lubrication and special longitudinal combs.
But at a speed of 10-15 meters per second, the effect of cavitation is manifested – air bubbles are formed near the actively working tail. It turns out that the dolphin feels them with nerve endings in the form of pain. So nature simply does not allow these animals to swim even faster, stopping the acceleration with unpleasant sensations. While not all aspects of dolphin speed swimming are completely clear yet, it is a very interesting mystery.
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The importance of breathing
Breathing is a vital function of any mammal. But it works differently in dolphins than in humans. These creatures breathe only consciously, and not reflexively, as we do. That is why dolphins cannot breathe while anesthetized. Yes, and during sleep, only one half of the brain is turned off, the second just supports the breathing process. One portion of oxygen is enough for animals for about 8-10 minutes, after which they need to rise to the surface and take a breath.
Cases of suicides recorded in dolphins are also associated with the ability to breathe. Sometimes animals just intentionally interrupt this process. But what this is connected with is another mystery.
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Dolphins can be considered highly intelligent creatures, if only because they have a language. The simplest part is gestures. But animals also have a complex system of sound signals. And if echolocation helps to assess the situation, then chirping, squealing, screeching, grinding or whistling are needed to communicate with relatives. Signals are emitted at high ultrasonic frequencies that we simply cannot hear. Scientists have counted at least 186 different whistles that have a similar organization to us: sound, syllable, word, phrase, etc. Experiments have shown that dolphins are capable of giving and recognizing names. Even the complex CymaScope was created, which is designed to decode complex signals. It is believed that in the vocabulary of dolphins there can be up to 14 thousand sound signals, but this language has not yet been recognized.