- Nearly 40 species of dolphins swim the waters of the world. Most live in shallow areas of tropical and temperate oceans, and five species live in rivers.
- Dolphins are carnivores. Fish, squid and crustaceans are included in their list of prey. A 260-pound dolphin eats about 33 pounds of fish a day.
- Known for their playful behavior, dolphins are highly intelligent. They are as smart as apes, and the evolution of their larger brains is surprisingly similar to humans.
- Dolphins are part of the family of whales that includes orcas and pilot whales. Killer whales are actually dolphins.
The concept of the intelligence of mammals and especially dolphins has intrigued the human mind for decades now. We are familiar with how dolphins showed intelligence but upcoming research has revealed how little we really know about these fascinating creatures. They are more like us than we might have suspected.
In most cases, as with animals and birds, nurture goes along with nature, such that each generation learns the vital skills necessary for survival – such as predatory ability, danger awareness, migratory routes and others – from their predecessor and or elders. For animals such as insects, the skills for survival are hard wired into their generic composition, kicking in when they are needed. And in case of human beings, rather than just passing on generic skills, each individual is able to educate others based on their own experience. We are not alone in this type of individual learning as research and observation has revealed in the recent years.
Dolphins have ancestral connections to terrestrial mammals and it is believed that the ancestors of dolphins that we know today entered the water about 50 million years ago! Having been terrestrial animals originally, several changes had to take place as outlined below for survival in aquatic environment. Dolphins’ earliest ancestors were land-based hoofed creatures that became aquatic, losing their hind legs and gaining flippers over time.