The male dolphins with the strongest and most social contacts also seem to have the most offspring. And they maintain these important friendships by… whistling, among other things.
These are the bottlenose dolphins of Shark Bay in Australia. They are known for their large social groups, which are all men who are not related to each other. It is an uncommon compound in the animal kingdom.
Scientists looked at 30 years of data on the behavior of different “teams” of men from this environment. When they also looked at the genetic data of the males and young in the habitat, they found that the males with the strongest friendships and the most contacts in the group also had the most offspring.
But how do these guys actually maintain their friendships? They do this by touching and playing, but also, according to another study: whistling at each other† Especially if another male in the group is just a bit too far away and it’s an acquaintance (not a close friend) he chooses to whistle. This whistle – which dolphins learn to use from an early age to recognize each other – says it all: here Henk, here Henk. To which someone else responds with: here Harry, here Harry, about.
A very effective and simple way to maintain your contacts. And one that apparently also provides more posterity.
Read more: Dolphins whistle to keep in touch with distant friends† Dolphin sound credit: Stephanie King, researcher at the University of Bristol. Image on Twitter: Image taken from a video by researcher Simon Allen.
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