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dolphin : any of various small marine toothed whales (family Delphinidae) with the snout more or less elongated into a beak and the neck vertebrae partially fused

Note: While not closely related, dolphins and porpoises share a physical resemblance that often leads to misidentification. Dolphins typically have cone-shaped teeth, curved dorsal fins, and elongated beaks with large mouths, while porpoises have flat, spade-shaped teeth, triangular dorsal fins, and shortened beaks with smaller mouths.Webster

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Dolphins are a widely distributed and diverse group of aquatic mammals. They are an informal grouping within the order Cetacea, excluding whales and porpoises, so to zoologists the grouping is paraphyletic. The dolphins comprise the extant families Delphinidae (the oceanic dolphins), Platanistidae (the Indian river dolphins), Iniidae (the new world river dolphins), and Pontoporiidae (the brackish dolphins), and the extinct Lipotidae (baiji or Chinese river dolphin). There are 40 extant species of dolphins. Dolphins, alongside other cetaceans, belong to the clade Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates. Their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, having diverged about 40 million years ago.

Dolphins range in size from the 1.7 m (5.6 ft) long and 50 kg (110 lb) Maui’s dolphin to the 9.5 m (31 ft) and 10 t (11 short tons) killer whale. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism, in that the males are larger than females. They have streamlined bodies and two limbs that are modified into flippers. Though not quite as flexible as seals, some dolphins can travel at 55.5 km/h (34.5 mph). Dolphins use their conical shaped teeth to capture fast moving prey. They have well-developed hearing which is adapted for both air and water and is so well developed that some can survive even if they are blind. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep warm in the cold water.

Although dolphins are widespread, most species prefer the warmer waters of the tropic zones, but some, like the right whale dolphin, prefer colder climates. Dolphins feed largely on fish and squid, but a few, like the killer whale, feed on large mammals, like seals. Male dolphins typically mate with multiple females every year, but females only mate every two to three years. Calves are typically born in the spring and summer months and females bear all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for a relatively long period of time. Dolphins produce a variety of vocalizations, usually in the form of clicks and whistles. — Wikipedia

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Researchers Find That Dolphins Call Each Other By ‘Name’ (Eyder Peralta, NPR)
Dolphins Name Themselves With Whistles, Study Says (James Owen, National Geographic News)

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Dolphins and Whales News -- ScienceDaily Whales and dolphins. Whale songs, beaching, endangered status -- current research news on all cetaceans.

  • The limits of ocean heavyweights: Prey curb...
    on December 12, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Scientists collected data from hundreds of feeding whales, allowing them to determine how much energy species of different sizes invest to capture their prey and which of these species reap the greatest rewards for their efforts. Their findings reveal that body size in all whales is limited by the availability of their prey, but only filter-feeding whales have evolved a feeding strategy that drives them to achieve the largest body sizes to have ever evolved.

  • A new early whale, Aegicetus gehennae, and the...
    on December 11, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    A newly discovered fossil whale represents a new species and an important step in the evolution of whale locomotion.

  • Killer whale grandmothers boost survival of calves
    on December 9, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    New research finds that killer whale grandmothers who were no longer able to reproduce had the biggest beneficial impact on the survival chances of their grand-offspring. This may be because grandmothers without calves of their own are free to focus time and resources on the latest generation, the researchers suggest.

  • Whales may owe their efficient digestion to...
    on December 5, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    A study shows that the microbial communities inside whales may play an important role in the digestion of one of the ocean's most abundant carbon-rich lipids, known as a wax ester.

  • Lights on fishing nets save turtles and dolphins
    on December 5, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Placing lights on fishing nets reduces the chances of sea turtles and dolphins being caught by accident, new research shows.


Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories Phys.org internet news portal provides the latest news on science including: Physics, Nanotechnology, Life Sciences, Space Science, Earth Science, Environment, Health and Medicine.

  • After two months of red tide scare, cold...
    on December 13, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    After a quick spread over 100 miles of Florida's west coast, red tide has receded and it would seem the colder temperatures may be the reason why.

  • How Risso's dolphins strike a balance between...
    on December 13, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    What do marine mammals eat? It's a simple question with profound implications for marine-mammal conservation and fisheries research. But it can a be tough question for scientists to answer because they can't see what these animals are doing underwater. MBARI researcher Kelly Benoit-Bird is finding new ways to answer this question using specialized echosounders mounted on ships and undersea robots. In a recent paper, Benoit-Bird demonstrated for the first time how researchers can simultaneously […]

  • The limits of ocean heavyweights: Prey curb...
    on December 12, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    At 100 feet long and weighing more than 100 tons, blue whales are the largest creatures to have evolved on the planet. Other whales, like killer whales, are larger than most terrestrial animals but pale in comparison to the size of blue whales. What sets these two weight classes of whales apart? And what is stopping the biggest whales from growing even bigger?

  • Lights on fishing nets save turtles and dolphins
    on December 5, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Placing lights on fishing nets reduces the chances of sea turtles and dolphins being caught by accident, new research shows.

  • Bottlenose dolphins found to have right-side bias
    on November 27, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    A team of researchers with the Dolphin Communication Project, St. Mary's College of Maryland and Hunter College, has found evidence that indicates bottlenose dolphins have a right-side bias. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes their study of bottlenose dolphins living off the coast of Bimini, The Bahamas, and what they learned about them.