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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 in History and Present Day Culture (Awesome Ocean)
Natural History of Dolphins (Dolphin Research Center)

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The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins (Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell)

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

  • A large number of gray whales are starving and...
    on January 22, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    It is now the third year that gray whales have been found in very poor condition or dead in large numbers along the west coast of Mexico, USA and Canada, and scientist have raised their concerns. An international study suggests that starvation is contributing to these mortalities.

  • A bucket of water can reveal climate change...
    on January 12, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    We know very little about marine life in the Arctic. Now researchers are trying to change that. They have shown that a simple water sample makes it possible to monitor the presence, migration patterns and genetic diversity of bowhead whales in an otherwise hard-to-reach area. The method can be used to understand how climate changes and human activities impact life in the oceans.

  • Hormone metabolites found in feces give...
    on December 21, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    Fecal samples are an effective, non-invasive tool for monitoring gray whale reproduction, stress and other physiological responses.

  • New population of blue whales discovered in the...
    on December 21, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    An international team of researchers has discovered what it believes to be a new population of blue whales in the western Indian Ocean.

  • Humpback whale songs provide insight to...
    on December 18, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Following reports of unusually low whale numbers that began in 2015-16, researchers examined song chorusing recorded at six sites off Maui.


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.

  • How did forelimb function change as vertebrates...
    on January 22, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    When tetrapods (four-limbed vertebrates) began to move from water to land roughly 390 million years ago it set in motion the rise of lizards, birds, mammals, and all land animals that exist today, including humans and some aquatic vertebrates such as whales and dolphins.

  • Perth has distinct dolphin communities and they...
    on January 14, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    Research out of Murdoch University has identified distinct ecological communities of dolphins living in Perth waters requiring separate protection measures from anthropogenic threats.

  • Scientists discover electric eels hunting in a...
    on January 14, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    Deep in the Brazilian Amazon River basin, scientists led by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History fish research associate C. David de Santana discovered a small, river-fed lake filled with more than 100 adult electric eels, many of which were upwards of 4 feet long. On its own, this was an intriguing discovery, electric eels—a type of knifefish rather than true eels—were thought to be solitary creatures.

  • High cost to wildlife from shark nets protecting...
    on January 13, 2021 at 9:05 am

    "They're basically curtains of death," said shark diver Walter Bernardis as he reached over the side of his zodiac inflatable boat to pull up a net bobbing in eastern South Africa's subtropical waters.

  • Orphaned rhinos find safe refuge in S.Africa...
    on January 11, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Rhinoceros calf "Jessie" was just four-months-old when she arrived at a shelter in northern South Africa, bleeding from a cut to the shoulder and deeply traumatised.