[97] This type of travel is known as porpoising. [33][34], Dolphins have torpedo-shaped bodies with generally non-flexible necks, limbs modified into flippers, a tail fin, and bulbous heads. Dolphins can live in either fresh or salt water. In the wild, females who survive infancy live 46 years on average, and up to 70–80 years in rare cases. Dolphins were also the messengers of Poseidon and sometimes did errands for him as well. Test your knowledge of mammals by taking this quiz. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Experts Discover Cause. Wolphins have also been observed in the wild. The most widely recognized species are the common and bottlenose dolphins (Delphinus delphis and Tursiops truncatus, respectively). Dolphins are hunted this way in several places around the world, including the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, Peru, and Japan, the most well-known practitioner of this method. Some coastal species of oceanic dolphins spend considerable amounts of time in fresh water. They are related to the Indohyus, an extinct chevrotain-like ungulate, from which they split approximately 48 million years ago. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for a relatively long period of time. These figures exclude animals that died during capture. Their skeletal anatomy allows them to be fast swimmers. [186] However, this study was criticized on several grounds. Research in this field has suggested that cetaceans, among others, possess self-awareness. Dolphins range in size from the 1.7-metre-long (5 ft 7 in) long and 50-kilogram (110-pound) Maui's dolphin to the 9.5 m (31 ft 2 in) and 10-tonne (11-short-ton) killer whale. [68] The gestation period varies with species; for the small Tucuxi dolphin, this period is around 11 to 12 months,[69] while for the orca, the gestation period is around 17 months. Dolphins have rather small, unidentifiable spouts. The name is originally from Greek δελφίς (delphís), "dolphin",[2] which was related to the Greek δελφύς (delphus), "womb". An auditory experience influences the whistle development of each dolphin. In 2000 the press reported that dolphins trained to kill by the Soviet Navy had been sold to Iran. [71] They usually become sexually active at a young age, even before reaching sexual maturity. Their escape is prevented by closing off the route to the ocean with other boats or nets. From 1976 to 1997, 55 whales were taken from the wild in Iceland, 19 from Japan, and three from Argentina. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. They have well-developed hearing which is adapted for both air and water and is so well developed that some can survive even if they are blind. Although dolphins are widespread, most species prefer the warmer waters of the tropic zones, but some, like the right whale dolphin, prefer colder climates. Dolphins are cetaceans which are a group of mammals fully adapted to live in the water. Compared to many other species, however, dolphin behavior has been studied extensively, both in captivity and in the wild. Dolphins frequently leap above the water surface, this being done for various reasons. They cover their snouts with sponges to protect them while foraging. The signature whistle of a male bottlenose dolphin tends to be similar to that of his mother, while the signature whistle of a female bottlenose dolphin tends to be more distinguishing. Dolphins have long played a role in human culture. [90] Bottlenose dolphins have a strong memory when it comes to these signature whistles, as they are able to relate to a signature whistle of an individual they have not encountered for over twenty years. They are sometimes called, This page was last edited on 17 November 2020, at 21:18. [75] Male dolphins may also work together and attempt to herd females in estrus, keeping the females by their side by means of both physical aggression and intimidation, to increase their chances of reproductive success. [140][141] In some parts of the world, such as Taiji in Japan and the Faroe Islands, dolphins are traditionally considered food and are killed in harpoon or drive hunts. See cetacean intelligence for more details. [123], Dolphins have few marine enemies. [149] While this particular study has not been repeated since then, dolphins have since passed the mirror test. [153] In both ancient and later art, Cupid is often shown riding a dolphin. [79] Different breeds of dolphins vary widely in the number of teeth they possess. Dolphin meat is consumed in a small number of countries worldwide, which include Japan[190] and Peru (where it is referred to as chancho marino, or "sea pork"). [68][73][74], Various species of dolphin have been known to engage in sexual behavior up to and including copulation with dolphins of other species. [164] The killer whale's intelligence, trainability, striking appearance, playfulness in captivity and sheer size have made it a popular exhibit at aquaria and aquatic theme parks. Dolphins are capable of making a broad range of sounds using nasal airsacs located just below the blowhole. [20], Dolphins are descendants of land-dwelling mammals of the artiodactyl order (even-toed ungulates). Orcas on occasion also hunt whale species larger than themselves. By numbers, dolphins are mostly hunted for their meat, though some end up in dolphinariums. The behavior spreads mainly within generations, rather than being passed from mother to offspring. Our latest podcast episode features popular TED speaker Mara Mintzer. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. [24][25][26][27] Their features became adapted for living in the marine environment. [167] Captives occasionally act aggressively towards themselves, their tankmates, or humans, which critics say is a result of stress. The fusing of the neck vertebrae, while increasing stability when swimming at high speeds, decreases flexibility, which means they are unable to turn their heads.

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