Quickie Post — More Evidence that Sentience is Evolutionary – Cetaceans Redux


Swimming with dolphins in the open ocean, Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, 2013, the Big Island of Hawaii

For those that need a break from our self-created trauma machine of social media lately (there’s a whole post on that, but I just can’t bear to write it!) I just got this link from Frans De Waal’s Facebook feed.  Not surprisingly, the science is coming back that cetaceans have complex societies.  Whales and dolphins both engage in intense empathetic behaviors that have led to the rise of cetacean ‘cultures’.  From the piece:

The long list of behavioural similarities includes many traits shared with humans and other primates such as:

  • complex alliance relationships – working together for mutual benefit
  • social transfer of hunting techniques – teaching how to hunt and using tools
  • cooperative hunting
  • complex vocalizations, including regional group dialects – ‘talking’ to each other
  • vocal mimicry and ‘signature whistles’ unique to individuals – using ‘name’ recognition
  • interspecific cooperation with humans and other species – working with different species
  • alloparenting – looking after youngsters that aren’t their own
  • social play

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-whales-dolphins-rich-human-like-cultures.html#jCp

The most interesting thing I found in the article, though, is the statement from one of the professors from Stanford, Dr. Kieran Fox:

Dr Kieran Fox, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, added: “Cetaceans have many complex social behaviours that are similar to humans and other primates. They, however, have different brain structures from us, leading some researchers to argue that whales and dolphins could not achieve higher cognitive and social skills. I think our research shows that this is clearly not the case. Instead, a new question emerges: How can very diverse patterns of structure in very different species nonetheless give rise to highly similar cognitive and social behaviours?”

I think I might just have to drop him a note.












One thought on “Quickie Post — More Evidence that Sentience is Evolutionary – Cetaceans Redux

  1. Dr. Kieran Fox does NOT know what he is talking about. If you knew how he conducted himself in everyday life, you would NOT want to drop him a line. Trust me.


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