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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.

  • Good night? Satellite data uncovers dolphins on...
    on June 2, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    More than 1,000 bottlenose dolphins live in Florida's Indian River Lagoon year-round. Although extensively studied, what they do at nighttime is still a mystery. Using satellite telemetry, scientists provide the first documentation that these dolphins have a larger range that encompasses more habitats than previously thought. They regularly leave the brackish waters of the estuarine system and, not only travel into the ocean, but swim substantial distances -- up to 20 kilometers -- up […]

  • New Zealand blue whale distribution patterns tied...
    on May 28, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    The researchers who recently discovered a population of blue whales in New Zealand are learning more about the links between the whales, their prey and ocean conditions that are changing as the planet warms.

  • Fishing less could be a win for both lobstermen...
    on May 27, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    A new study found that New England's historic lobster fishery may turn a higher profit by operating with less gear in the water and a shorter season.

  • Rarely heard narwhal vocalizations
    on May 26, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    With the help of Inuit hunters, geophysicists recently recorded the various calls, buzzes, clicks and whistles of narwhals as they summered in a Greenland fjord. The recordings help scientists better understand the soundscape of Arctic glacial fjords and provide valuable insight into the behavior of these shy and mysterious creatures, according to the researchers.

  • Migratory secrets of recovering whale species
    on May 20, 2020 at 12:41 am

    Scientists have discovered where a whale species that feeds around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia breeds during the winter months. This understanding of where the animals migrate from will enable conservation efforts for their recovery from years of whaling.


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.

  • Anti-virus face masks plague Hong Kong's beaches
    on June 5, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Surgical masks are washing up in growing quantities on the shores of Hong Kong, a city that has overwhelmingly embraced face coverings to fight the coronavirus.

  • Study explores how Native Americans used sea...
    on June 2, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    University of Oregon scientists are probing archaeological evidence for how indigenous peoples used sea otters, and their findings could help Alaskans confront growing numbers of the mammals and Oregonians who want to reintroduce them on the coast.

  • Good night? Satellite data uncovers dolphins on...
    on June 2, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    More than 1,000 bottlenose dolphins live in the Indian River Lagoon year-round. This estuarine system along the southeast coast of Florida is a narrow and convoluted ecosystem with interconnected bodies of water, a handful of ocean inlets, and numerous small rivers, creeks and canals that release freshwater into the lagoon. While this population of dolphins in the lagoon has been studied extensively, what they do at nighttime is still a mystery.

  • Long childhoods and extended parenting help young...
    on June 1, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Humans are unusual, even among primates, in the length of our "extended childhood." Scientists think that this period of childhood and adolescence, which gives us lots of time to explore, create, and learn, is a key reason why we are smart enough to learn skills that take years to master. But humans are not the only species with an extended childhood. Elephants, some bats, whales, dolphins, and some birds—especially corvids—also have them. But does an extended childhood confer […]

  • Nevada home to 246M-year-old fossil of pregnant...
    on May 31, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    Autumn was closing in fast on northern Nevada when Martin Sander took one last look around the excavation site in the Augusta Mountains 150 miles (241 kilometers) east of Reno.