back to article NO, ELEPHANTS, it's we DOLPHINS who NEVER FORGET our best pals

Dolphins have the longest memories in the animal kingdom, longer even than the famously unforgetful elephant, say scientists: the sea-dwelling mammals remember friends' whistles after being separated for more than 20 years. Dolphins can remember each other's signature whistles after 20 years Mate! How long has it been? 20 years …

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Unhappy

Maybe I'm silly, but I can't help wondering what the dolphins feel like when they seem to hear the calls of long-lost friends that aren't actually there. Seems rather cruel to me.

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Unhappy

They probably think they're going mad. We'll know shortly if the lot of them beach themselves out of despair.

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re.

I wonder what the reaction would be if they played a recording of a long lost enemy's whistle. Then again, maybe dolphins are too intelligent and civilised to hold grudges.

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Unhappy

I was goign to post a comment about "i for one welcome our new dolphin overlords" but your post has left me feeling rather sad, and truth be told that joke is getting rather old anyway.

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Re: Seems rather cruel

Not really. They're just testing the waters to see if they might be able to sell these dolphins phone contracts and subscriptions to fins reunited.

Actually, why not test if dolphins really could get the hang of telephones? It'd be interesting if they could!

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Mushroom

Re: Seems rather cruel

Imagine what would happen if a dolphin ever gets to use twitter and manages to type out "so long and thanks for all the fish".

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Re: re.

"I wonder what the reaction would be if they played a recording of a long lost enemy's whistle"

It depends on whether that long lost enemy is the long lost enemy of another long lost enemy, in which case it would actually be the dolphin's long lost friend.

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Pint

@Will Godfrey

> I can't help wondering what the dolphins feel like when they seem to hear the calls of long-lost friends

A sense of déjà vu?

Beer icon... well, because its almost time for that.

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As Sir Terry said...

Never trust a species that smiles all the time...they're planning something.

And besides, we only hear the stories of the folk escorted to shores. The other 90% were lured out into the deep sea.

And now we find that they have great memories...all the better for holding a grudge, or remembering where the other bodies are.

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Re: As Sir Terry said...

I have a photo somewhere of a pod of dolphins giving a shark a good whupping. For that alone I like them. There are a lot of them around here (spinners close to shore, at least during the day and spotted & bottlenose further out), they love to play with boats. If you know where to swim (and are brave enough due to Tiger sharks) you can swim with them.

I know it's a very human trait to project intelligence onto animals, but damnit, dolphins and whales just seem so intelligent, just in a different manner. Even sea turtles seem to recognise different people and take a interest in some people. Perhaps it's wishful thinking but I think there is a pretty reasonable level of intelligence in them.

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Facepalm

Re: As Sir Terry said...

"...all the better for holding a grudge, or remembering where the other bodies are".

And I thought I was a cynic!

(Besides, I prefer to chance it with smiles than great whites any day.)

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Re: As Sir Terry said...

Autumn of '73 I accidentally left a suitcase on the platform at King Cross. On discovering my error hours later I returned in haste only to find that a passing dolphin had kindly handed it in at lost property that morning. I haven't a bad word to say about dolphins.

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These days that would have shut the train station and caused a terror alert !

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Thumb Up

Re: As Sir Terry said...

I remember reading an article many years back about how a small number of dolphins had been removed from a pod and taught how to count objects. Once they were returned to their pod, not only did they set about teaching the other dolphins how to count, but they also taught it in a much more efficient way than the humans had thought up to teach them in the first place.

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Re: As Sir Terry said...

I suppose the passing dolphin at Kings Cross station was catching a train to Fishguard.

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Re: As Sir Terry said...

Unlikely. Dolphins would know the Fishguard train runs from Paddington, not King's Cross.

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"But to test whether this kind of social memory capacity is adaptive, we would need more demographic data from multiple populations in the wild to see if they experience 20-year separations"

As they have some mobility from one group to another, and the groups themselves could occasionally be separated for years, their memory could help them prevent inbreeding and genetic depletion.

Either that or they use they 'names' as part of a mechanism used in signalling an abundance of resources and/or a request for collaboration for hunting said resources to other groups. As chances are that neighbouring groups are genetically related, a mechanism like this would be very useful for aiding a group's genes to propagate.

If the last hypothesis was true, that would mean that -at least in a limited sense- dolphins are more intelligent than (most) humans.

Disclaimer: I'm not an ethologist so everything I wrote above could be catastrophically wrong. But thanks for your patience. :^)

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g e
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They need to remember the way home

For when the Vogons rock up

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Gav
Boffin

Remember

"Dolphins have the longest memories in the animal kingdom"

And here's me thinking it was humans. I must have forgotten when we became vegetables.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Remember

"And here's me thinking it was women"

I couldn't agree more.

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Re: Reg article missing key word

The actual paper just shows that dolphins have the longest *known" memory among non-humans. Elephants could very well have longer memories, as could tortoises. I'm betting against the bristlecone pines, though.

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Coat

"So long, and thanks for all the memories."

The one with the sardine in the pocket.

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So this dolphin swims up to a group and say "Hey everyone! Anything interesting going on? By the way I'm Dave." With that one of the other dolphins excitedly say "Hey! Dave! Is that really you this time? Wow I haven't seen you since you were fin length to a turtle! Well you would NOT believe what those strange looking monkeys have been doing recently..."

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Breeding consortium

all part of a breeding consortium, so the dolphins had met at some point

Are you sure you mean "met"?

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