Dolphin

For other uses, see Dolphin (disambiguation).
Genera
See article below.

Dolphins are aquatic mammals related to whales and porpoises. The name is from Ancient Greek δελφίς delphis meaning "with a womb", viz. "a 'fish' with a womb".

The word is used in a few different ways. It can mean:

  1. Any member of the family Delphinidae (oceanic dolphins),
  2. Any member of the families Delphinidae and Platanistoidea (oceanic and river dolphins),
  3. Any member of the suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales; these include the above families and some others),
  4. Used casually as a synonym for Bottlenose Dolphin, the most common and familiar species of dolphin.

In this article, the second definition is used.

Porpoises (suborder Odontoceti, family Phocoenidae) are thus not dolphins in our sense. Orcas and some related species belong to the Delphinidae family and therefore qualify as dolphins, even though they are called whales in common language.

There are almost 40 species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from 1.2 m (4 ft) and 40 kg (88 lb) (Maui's Dolphin), up to 9.5 m (30 ft) and 10 tonnes (the Orca). Most species weigh about 50 to 200 kg (110 to 440 lb). They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and all are carnivores, mostly eating fish and squid.

The family Delphinidae is the largest in the Cetacea, and relatively recent: dolphins evolved about 10 million years ago, during the Miocene.

Taxonomy

Six animals in the family Delphinidae are commonly called "whales" but are strictly speaking dolphins. They are sometimes called "blackfish":

Hybrid Dolphins

In 1933, three strange dolphins were beached off the Irish coast; these appeared to be hybrids between Risso's Dolphin and the Bottlenose Dolphin. This mating has since been repeated in captivity and a hybrid calf was born. In captivity, a Bottlenose Dolphin and a Rough-Toothed Dolphin produced hybrid offspring. In the wild, Spinner Dolphins have sometimes hybridised with Spotted Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins. In the wild, bands of males of one dolphin species have been observed to mate with lone female Spinners. Blue Whales, Fin Whales and Humpback Whales all hybridize in the wild. Dall's Porpoises and Harbour Porpoises have hybridized in the wild. There has also been a reported hybrid between a beluga and a narwhal. See also wolphin.

Evolution and anatomy of dolphins

Dolphins, along with whales and porpoises, are descendants of land-living mammals, most likely of the Artiodactyl order. Modern dolphin skeletons have two small rod shaped pelvic bones thought to be left-over hind legs. They entered the water roughly 50 million years ago. See evolution of cetaceans for the details.

Dolphins have a fusiform body, adapted for fast swimming. The head contains the melon, a round organ used for echolocation. In many species, the jaws are elongated, forming a distinct beak; for some species like the Bottlenose, there is a curved mouth that looks like a fixed smile. Teeth can be very numerous (up to 250) in several species. The dolphin brain is large and has a highly structured cortex, which often is referred to in discussions about their high intelligence.

Their teeth are arranged in a way that works as an array or antenna focusing the incoming sound, making it easier for them to pinpoint the exact location of an object.

The basic coloration patterns are shades of gray with a light underside and a distinct dark cape on the back. It is often combined with lines and patches of different hue and contrast. See individual species articles for details.

Dolphin behavior

Dolphins in balance.

Dolphins are widely believed to be amongst the most intelligent of all animals. A typical statement would be that dolphins are roughly as intelligent as a two-year-old human. However, experts in comparative psychology or animal cognition would be reluctant to make any such estimate, as quantitative comparisons of intelligence between species are notoriously difficult to make in principle. Straightforward comparisons of species' relative intelligence are complicated by differences in sensory apparatus, response modes, and nature of cognition; furthermore, the difficulty and expense of doing experimental work with a large marine animal mean that even such tests as can meaningfully be done have still not been done, or have been carried out with inadequate sample size and methodology. See the Dolphin intelligence article for more details.

Dolphins often leap above the water surface, sometimes performing acrobatic figures (e.g. the spinner dolphin). Scientists aren't quite certain about the purpose of this behavior, but it may be to locate schools of fish by looking at above water signs, like feeding birds. They could also be communicating to other dolphins to join a hunt, or attempting to dislodge parasites. Perhaps they just do it for fun. Play is a very important part of dolphins' lives and they can often be observed playing with seaweed or playfighting with other dolphins. They have even been seen harassing other creatures, like seabirds and turtles. Frequently dolphins will accompany boats, riding the bow waves.

They are also famous for their willingness to occasionally approach humans and playfully interact with them in the water. In return, in some cultures like in Ancient Greece they were treated with welcome; a ship spotting dolphins riding in their wake was considered a good omen for a smooth voyage. There are many stories of dolphins protecting shipwrecked sailors against sharks by swimming circles around the swimmers.

Dolphins are social animals, living in pods (also called "schools") of up to a dozen animals. In places with a high abundance of food, schools can join temporarily, forming an aggregation called a superpod; such groupings may exceed 1000 dolphins. The individuals communicate using a variety of clicks, whistles and other vocalizations. They also use ultrasonic sounds for echolocation.

Dolphin leaping in the air.

Membership in schools is not rigid; interchange is common. However, the animals can establish strong bonds between each other. This leads to them staying with injured or ill fellows for support.

Because of their high capacity for learning, dolphins have been employed by humans for any number of purposes. Dolphins trained to perform in front of an audience have become a favorite attraction in dolphinaria, for example SeaWorld. Dolphin/Human interaction is also employed in a curative sense at places where dolphins work with autistic or otherwise disabled children. The military has employed dolphins for various purposes from finding mines to rescuing lost or trapped persons. Such military dolphins, however, drew scrutiny during the Vietnam War when rumors circulated that dolphins were being trained to kill Vietnamese Skin Divers.

In May 2005, researchers in Australia discovered a cultural aspect of dolphin behaviour: Some dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) teach their offspring to use a tool. The animals break off sponges and put them onto their mouths thus protecting the delicate body part during their hunt for fish on the seabed. Other than with primate simians, the knowledge to use a tool is mostly handed over only from mothers to daughters. The technology to use sponges as mouth protection is not genetically inherited but a taught cultural behaviour.

In captivity, many dolphins seem to have committed suicide. They either do so by repeatedly slamming their head against the pool walls or other solid objects or simply by not coming up for air anymore. Probably one of the best known cases of dolphin suicide is that of a dolphin named Cathy, one of the bottlenose dolphins that performed in the television series Flipper. She most likely died of self induced asphyxiation in the presence of her trainer Richard O'Barry.[1]

Compare also: whale behavior

Senses

Most dolphins have acute eyesight both in and out of the water and their sense of hearing is far above our own. Though they have a small ear opening on each side of their head it is believed hearing underwater is also if not exclusively done with the lower jaw which conducts the vibrations to the middle ear via a fat filled cavity in the lower jaw bone. Hearing is also used for echolocation which seems to be an ability all dolphins have. The dolphin's sense of touch is also well-developed.

However, they seem to lack a well-developed sense of smell, but they most likely can taste and do show preferences for certain kinds of fish. Since dolphins spend most of their time below the surface in the wild, just tasting the water could act as a sense of smell.

Feeding

Dolphins are predators, chasing their prey at high speed. The dentition is adapted to the animals they hunt: Species with long beaks and many teeth forage on fish, whereas short beaks and lesser tooth count are linked to catching squid. Some dolphins may take crustaceans. Usually, the prey is swallowed whole. The larger species, especially the orca, are capable of eating marine mammals, even large whales. There are no known reports of cannibalism amongst dolphins.

Individual species may employ a number of methods of hunting:

Dolphin lore


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Individual species may employ a number of methods of hunting:. Driving is the act of controlling a vehicle. There are no known reports of cannibalism amongst dolphins. As a proper noun, drive is Chicago slang term for Lake Shore Drive, and the name for:. The larger species, especially the orca, are capable of eating marine mammals, even large whales. Drive is also a short for driveway. Usually, the prey is swallowed whole. Drive has several meanings in various fields:.

Some dolphins may take crustaceans. DriveLetterManipulator How to: Drive Letter Manipulation. The dentition is adapted to the animals they hunt: Species with long beaks and many teeth forage on fish, whereas short beaks and lesser tooth count are linked to catching squid. WDRV The Drive — a Chicago classic rock station (97.1 FM). Dolphins are predators, chasing their prey at high speed. and Incubus. Since dolphins spend most of their time below the surface in the wild, just tasting the water could act as a sense of smell. Drive (song) — the name of songs by The Cars, R.E.M.

However, they seem to lack a well-developed sense of smell, but they most likely can taste and do show preferences for certain kinds of fish. Drive (movie) — a 1997 film. The dolphin's sense of touch is also well-developed. Drive (band) — power noise/techno side-project of Icon of Coil's Andy LaPlegua. Hearing is also used for echolocation which seems to be an ability all dolphins have. Drive (album) — the debut solo album by New Zealand artist Bic Runga. Though they have a small ear opening on each side of their head it is believed hearing underwater is also if not exclusively done with the lower jaw which conducts the vibrations to the middle ear via a fat filled cavity in the lower jaw bone. A drive(charity) can be the act of a charity collecting items other than money.

Most dolphins have acute eyesight both in and out of the water and their sense of hearing is far above our own. In radio industry, drive is a time shift in the late afternoon. Compare also: whale behavior. In psychology, drive is an alternate name for motivation. She most likely died of self induced asphyxiation in the presence of her trainer Richard O'Barry.[1]. In basketball, driving is getting near the rim with the ball, often for an easier shot. Probably one of the best known cases of dolphin suicide is that of a dolphin named Cathy, one of the bottlenose dolphins that performed in the television series Flipper. In golf, drive is a very long golf shot.

They either do so by repeatedly slamming their head against the pool walls or other solid objects or simply by not coming up for air anymore. In computing, drive is a device for mass storage. In captivity, many dolphins seem to have committed suicide. The technology to use sponges as mouth protection is not genetically inherited but a taught cultural behaviour. Other than with primate simians, the knowledge to use a tool is mostly handed over only from mothers to daughters.

The animals break off sponges and put them onto their mouths thus protecting the delicate body part during their hunt for fish on the seabed. In May 2005, researchers in Australia discovered a cultural aspect of dolphin behaviour: Some dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) teach their offspring to use a tool. Such military dolphins, however, drew scrutiny during the Vietnam War when rumors circulated that dolphins were being trained to kill Vietnamese Skin Divers. The military has employed dolphins for various purposes from finding mines to rescuing lost or trapped persons.

Dolphin/Human interaction is also employed in a curative sense at places where dolphins work with autistic or otherwise disabled children. Dolphins trained to perform in front of an audience have become a favorite attraction in dolphinaria, for example SeaWorld. Because of their high capacity for learning, dolphins have been employed by humans for any number of purposes. This leads to them staying with injured or ill fellows for support.

However, the animals can establish strong bonds between each other. Membership in schools is not rigid; interchange is common. They also use ultrasonic sounds for echolocation. The individuals communicate using a variety of clicks, whistles and other vocalizations.

In places with a high abundance of food, schools can join temporarily, forming an aggregation called a superpod; such groupings may exceed 1000 dolphins. Dolphins are social animals, living in pods (also called "schools") of up to a dozen animals. There are many stories of dolphins protecting shipwrecked sailors against sharks by swimming circles around the swimmers. In return, in some cultures like in Ancient Greece they were treated with welcome; a ship spotting dolphins riding in their wake was considered a good omen for a smooth voyage.

They are also famous for their willingness to occasionally approach humans and playfully interact with them in the water. Frequently dolphins will accompany boats, riding the bow waves. They have even been seen harassing other creatures, like seabirds and turtles. Play is a very important part of dolphins' lives and they can often be observed playing with seaweed or playfighting with other dolphins.

Perhaps they just do it for fun. They could also be communicating to other dolphins to join a hunt, or attempting to dislodge parasites. Scientists aren't quite certain about the purpose of this behavior, but it may be to locate schools of fish by looking at above water signs, like feeding birds. the spinner dolphin).

Dolphins often leap above the water surface, sometimes performing acrobatic figures (e.g. See the Dolphin intelligence article for more details. Straightforward comparisons of species' relative intelligence are complicated by differences in sensory apparatus, response modes, and nature of cognition; furthermore, the difficulty and expense of doing experimental work with a large marine animal mean that even such tests as can meaningfully be done have still not been done, or have been carried out with inadequate sample size and methodology. However, experts in comparative psychology or animal cognition would be reluctant to make any such estimate, as quantitative comparisons of intelligence between species are notoriously difficult to make in principle.

A typical statement would be that dolphins are roughly as intelligent as a two-year-old human. Dolphins are widely believed to be amongst the most intelligent of all animals. See individual species articles for details. It is often combined with lines and patches of different hue and contrast.

The basic coloration patterns are shades of gray with a light underside and a distinct dark cape on the back. Their teeth are arranged in a way that works as an array or antenna focusing the incoming sound, making it easier for them to pinpoint the exact location of an object. The dolphin brain is large and has a highly structured cortex, which often is referred to in discussions about their high intelligence. Teeth can be very numerous (up to 250) in several species.

In many species, the jaws are elongated, forming a distinct beak; for some species like the Bottlenose, there is a curved mouth that looks like a fixed smile. The head contains the melon, a round organ used for echolocation. Dolphins have a fusiform body, adapted for fast swimming. See evolution of cetaceans for the details.

They entered the water roughly 50 million years ago. Modern dolphin skeletons have two small rod shaped pelvic bones thought to be left-over hind legs. Dolphins, along with whales and porpoises, are descendants of land-living mammals, most likely of the Artiodactyl order. See also wolphin.

There has also been a reported hybrid between a beluga and a narwhal. Dall's Porpoises and Harbour Porpoises have hybridized in the wild. Blue Whales, Fin Whales and Humpback Whales all hybridize in the wild. In the wild, bands of males of one dolphin species have been observed to mate with lone female Spinners.

In the wild, Spinner Dolphins have sometimes hybridised with Spotted Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins. In captivity, a Bottlenose Dolphin and a Rough-Toothed Dolphin produced hybrid offspring. This mating has since been repeated in captivity and a hybrid calf was born. In 1933, three strange dolphins were beached off the Irish coast; these appeared to be hybrids between Risso's Dolphin and the Bottlenose Dolphin.

They are sometimes called "blackfish":. Six animals in the family Delphinidae are commonly called "whales" but are strictly speaking dolphins. . The family Delphinidae is the largest in the Cetacea, and relatively recent: dolphins evolved about 10 million years ago, during the Miocene.

They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and all are carnivores, mostly eating fish and squid. Most species weigh about 50 to 200 kg (110 to 440 lb). They vary in size from 1.2 m (4 ft) and 40 kg (88 lb) (Maui's Dolphin), up to 9.5 m (30 ft) and 10 tonnes (the Orca). There are almost 40 species of dolphin in 17 genera.

Orcas and some related species belong to the Delphinidae family and therefore qualify as dolphins, even though they are called whales in common language. Porpoises (suborder Odontoceti, family Phocoenidae) are thus not dolphins in our sense. In this article, the second definition is used. It can mean:.

The word is used in a few different ways. "a 'fish' with a womb". The name is from Ancient Greek δελφίς delphis meaning "with a womb", viz. Dolphins are aquatic mammals related to whales and porpoises.

In the William Gibson short story Johnny Mnemonic and the film by the same name (starring Keanu Reeves), cyborg dolphins were used in war-time by the military to find submarines and, after the war, by a group of revolutionaries to decode encrypted information. One of the mates of the ship is named Akeakamai, in honor of the real-life dolphin from Louis Herman's animal language research. In the book Startide Rising by author David Brin, the spaceship Streaker is manned by neo-dolphins (dolphins genetically engineered to match human intelligence). In one scene, the dolphins' misbehavior elicits the following quote from Zissou: "Son of a bitch, I'm sick of these dolphins.".

In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, marine researcher Zissou (played by Bill Murray) has trained reconaissance dolphins which apparently are temperamental and rarely follow their instructions. In seaQuest, Darwin the dolphin could communicate with English speakers using a vocoder, an invention that translated the clicks and whistles to English and back. Mike and the 'Bots then quickly apoligize. While doing so, the SOL gets blasted by a ship that turns out to be piloted by dolphins.

In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Devil Fish," Mike and the 'Bots mock dolphins. Their logo depicts an aqua-colored bottlenose dolphin wearing an American football helmet and jumping in front of a coral-colored sunburst. An American National Football League (NFL) team is named the Miami Dolphins. A book called The Music of Dolphins was written by Karen Hesse, about a girl who had lived with dolphins since the age of four.

Ecco the Dolphin stars in a series of games for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Gear, Sega Dreamcast and PlayStation 2. After study at the Dolphins Plus research center in Key Largo, Florida, fantasy author Ken Grimwood wrote dolphins into his 1995 novel Into the Deep, including entire chapters written from the viewpoint of his dolphin characters. See Races from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Their story is told in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

However, their behavior was misinterpreted as playful acrobatics. In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, dolphins are the second most intelligent creatures on Earth (after mice) and tried in vain to warn humans of the impending destruction of the planet. The television show was based on a 1963 film, and remade as a feature film in 1996 starring Elijah Wood and Paul Hogan (actor), as well as a television series running from 1995-2000 starring Jessica Alba. The popular television show Flipper, created by Ivan Tors, portrayed a dolphin in a friendly relationship with two boys, Sandy and Bud; a kind of sea going Lassie, Flipper understood English unusually well and was a marked hero: "Go tell Dad we're in trouble, Flipper! Hurry!" The show's theme song contains the lyric no one you see / is smarter than he.

Foraging - A recent study reported that wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops) in Western Australia use sponges to forage in the sea bed for food.[2]. Stunning - using the echolocation melon, very loud clicks are directed at prey, stunning them. Fish Wacking - where the dolphin uses its fluke to strike the fish, stunning it and sometimes sending it clear out of the water. Corralling - where fish are chased to shallow water where they are more easily captured.

Herding - where a superpod will control a school of fish while individual members take turns plowing through the herd, feeding. Short-finned Pilot Whale, Globicephala macrorhynchus. Long-finned Pilot Whale, Globicephala melas. False Killer Whale, Psudoorca crassidens.

Pygmy Killer Whale, Feresa attenuata. Killer Whale, Orcinus orca. Melon-headed Whale, Peponocephalia electra. La Plata Dolphin (Franciscana), Pontoporia blainvillei.

Genus Pontoporia

    . Indus River Dolphin, Platanista minor. Ganges River Dolphin, Platanista gangetica. Genus Platanista
      .

      Chinese River Dolphin (Baiji), Lipotes vexillife. Genus Lipotes

        . Boto (Amazon River Dolphin), Inia geoffrensis. Genus Inia
          .

          Family Platanistoidea, River Dolphins

            . Short-finned Pilot Whale, Globicephala macrorhynchus. Long-finned Pilot Whale, Globicephala melas. Genus Globicephala
              .

              False Killer Whale, Pseudorca crassidens. Genus Pseudorca

                . Pygmy Killer Whale, Feresa attenuata. Genus Feresa
                  .

                  Killer Whale, Orcinus orca. Genus Orcinus

                    . Melon-headed Whale, Peponocephalia electra. Genus Peponocephalia
                      .

                      Irrawaddy Dolphin, Orcaella brevirostris. Australian Snubfin Dolphin, Orcaella heinsohni. Genus Orcaella

                        . White-Beaked Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus albirostris.

                        Peale's Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus australis. Pacific White-Sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obliquidens. Hourglass Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus cruciger. Dusky Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obscurus.

                        Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus. Genus Lagenorhyncus

                          . Fraser's Dolphin, Lagenodelphis hosei. Genus Lagenodelphis
                            .

                            Risso's Dolphin, Grampus griseus. Genus Grampus

                              . Hector's Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori. Heaviside's Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus heavisidii.

                              Commerson's Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus commersonii. Chilean Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus eutropia. Genus Cephalorynchus

                                . Rough-Toothed Dolphin, Steno bredanensis.

                                Genus Steno

                                  . Striped Dolphin, Stenella coeruleoalba. Spinner Dolphin, Stenella longirostris. Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, Stenella attenuata.

                                  Clymene Dolphin, Stenella clymene. Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Stenella frontalis. Genus Stenella

                                    . Atlantic Humpbacked Dolphin, Sousa teuszii.

                                    Chinese White Dolphin (the Chinese variant), Sousa chinensis chinensis. Indo-Pacific Hump-backed Dolphin, Sousa chinensis

                                      . Genus Sousa
                                        . Tucuxi, Sotalia fluviatilis.

                                        Genus Sotalia

                                          . Southern Rightwhale Dolphin, Lissiodelphis peronii. Northern Rightwhale Dolphin, Lissodelphis borealis. Genus Lissodelphis
                                            .

                                            Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. Genus Tursiops

                                              . Short-Beaked Common Dolphin, Delphinus delphis. Long-Beaked Common Dolphin, Delphinus capensis.

                                              Genus Delphinus

                                                . Family Delphinidae, oceanic Dolphins
                                                  . Suborder Odontoceti, toothed whales
                                                    . Used casually as a synonym for Bottlenose Dolphin, the most common and familiar species of dolphin.

                                                    Any member of the suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales; these include the above families and some others),. Any member of the families Delphinidae and Platanistoidea (oceanic and river dolphins),. Any member of the family Delphinidae (oceanic dolphins),.

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