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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Tool use in dolphins

The Australian:

The newfound toolmakers are a single lineage of female bottlenose dolphins in Western Australia's Shark Bay who stick sponges on their nose to help them forage for food in the muddy seabed. It is rare for marine mammals and it is also evidence of socially learned and transmitted "material culture" as the dolphins pass the trick on - mostly to their daughters - researchers claimed yesterday in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers who discovered the behavior have evidence to suggest that this is a recently derived trait. Add dolphins to the growing list of tool using animals. Perhaps humans aren't so very special after all?