Monday, August 21, 2006

Flipper = airhead? New brain claim divides Dolphin experts
CONTROVERSIAL research claiming dolphins are marine dimwits rather than among the most intelligent of animals has split Australian scientists.

The scientific and marine conservation communities were divided yesterday in response to a South African academic's research showing dolphins are less intelligent than lab rats or goldfish.

The study, by the University of the Witwatersrand's Paul Manger, claims the large brains of marine mammals such as dolphins and whales are to help cope with being warm-blooded in cold water and not a sign of intelligence.

Didn't hear about this originally (but then, it's not exactly archaeology).

"They do have pretty complicated behaviour. There's nothing complex in chimpanzees, orang-utans or gorillas," he said.

"I've worked with a number of different species and dolphins definitely look like they're thinking about you, and reacting to you and other things in their environment.

"This is compared to another species I worked with, the bandicoot, where you could stand there and they would repeatedly run into your legs."

I suppose that last line is worth reading the article for. I also question the assertion that higher primates don't have complex behaviors.

Update: Hawks has a link to an original article and a comparison to an Onion article. Both mention the fact (?) that dolphins don't seem to know enough to jump over either nets or short obstacles to escape their particular predicaments.