Natures wonders: mama dolphins sing to newborns (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, August 12, 2016, 19:51 (1327 days ago) @ David Turell

Dolphins have individual calls for identification. Mama dolphins teach their babies to know the mother's and develop their own:

"New research suggests that dolphin mothers teach their babies a "signature whistle" right before birth and in the two weeks after. Signature whistles are sounds that are made by individual dolphins, which the animals use to identify one another. Calves eventually develop their own signature whistle, but in the first few weeks of life, mothers seem focused on teaching their offspring their signature sound, the scientists said.

"'It's been hypothesized that this is part of an imprinting process," Audra Ames, a doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi, said.

"The researchers captured a total of 80 hours of recordings from the two months before and the two months after the dolphin's birth. They recorded the mom and the calf as well as the five dolphins housed with them. It was important to capture the noises of the mother's peers to understand whether the communication was exclusive to the mother-baby pair, Ames said.

"The recordings showed that the increased signature-whistle production was, in fact, the purview of the mother dolphin. She began increasing her signature whistle two weeks before the birth, possibly starting the learning process while her calf was still in utero.


"The mother dolphin also produced her signature whistle at high rates until two weeks after the calf's birth, after which she tapered off. Interestingly, Ames said, the other dolphins in the group didn't produce their own signature whistle at very high rates during the first two weeks of the calf's life. But after mama stopped the repetitions of her own whistle, the other members of the group started producing their own whistle at higher rates.

"'What the other dolphins might be doing here is remaining quiet so the calf does not imprint on the wrong signature whistle," Ames said.

"'Baby dolphins don't usually develop their own signature whistle until they're around the age of 2 months, with much variation in timing, Ames said. The baby's whistle tends not to be similar to the mother's or to the other dolphins in the group.

"'You don't want to have a signature sound that is going to be similar to someone else you're around quite often," Ames said."

Comment: Dolphins and whales have complex lifestyles as mammals living in water. One must wonder why the evolutionary process drove this complex development. There are much easier evolutionary paths to follow.

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