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Dolphins Science Tracer Bullet (Library of Congress)

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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.

  • ‘Whoop’ – new autonomous method precisely...
    on September 15, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    One of the frequently used methods to monitor endangered whales is called passive acoustics technology, which doesn't always perform well. In the increasingly noisy ocean, current methods can mistake other sounds for whale calls. This high 'false positive' rate hampers scientific research and hinders conservation efforts. Researchers used artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to develop a new and much more accurate method of detecting Right whale up-calls -- a short 'whoop' sound […]

  • Warming Atlantic drives right whales towards...
    on September 1, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    Warming oceans have driven the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population from its traditional and protected habitat, exposing the animals to more lethal ship strikes, disastrous commercial fishing entanglements and greatly reduced calving rates. Without improving its management, the right whale populations will decline and potentially become extinct in the coming decades, according to a recent report.

  • Study shows a whale of a difference between songs...
    on September 1, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    These findings challenge the results of past studies that vocal variations in humpback whale songs provide information about a singer's reproductive fitness. Instead, the morphing appears to reveal the precise locations and movements of singers from long distances and may enhance the effectiveness of song parts as sonar signals.

  • Development and evolution of dolphin, whale...
    on August 16, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    New research is shedding light on how the nasal passage of dolphins and whales shifts during embryonic development from emerging at the tip of the snout to emerging at the top of the head as a blowhole. The findings are an integrative model for this developmental transition for cetaceans.

  • Humans aren’t the only species whose...
    on August 13, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    If you feel like your metabolism just isn't what it used to be, no matter how many hours you spend in the gym, dolphins can relate. A new study finds that bottlenose dolphins burn calories at a lower rate as they get older, just like we do.


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.

  • As U.S. football season kicks off, climate change...
    on September 9, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    For many in the United States, the first sign of fall is the start of football season. College students are back on campus and broadcasting networks are gearing up for the usual Thursday-to-Monday coverage. But the impacts of climate change have undeniably worsened in recent years, converging in a cluster of disasters each summer and fall —also known as prime football time.

  • The world in a drop of water: DNA tool transforms...
    on September 7, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    In their search for pink river dolphins, researchers in the Peruvian Amazon scooped up river water sloshing with genetic material that they hoped could trace the elusive creatures.

  • How birds, mammals and children learn sounds
    on September 6, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Some songbirds learn to sing by listening to other birds. Some other animals can learn to copy sounds. But what does that tell us about human speech? Sonja Vernes from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen is lead editor of a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B on vocal learning in animals and humans, bringing together research on animals ranging from seals and bats to birds and humans.

  • Duck species can imitate sounds
    on September 6, 2021 at 11:42 am

    That a parrot can copycat sounds is nothing new. But vocal learning is not common in animals. Researcher Carel ten Cate of the Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL) of Leiden University has now discovered a duck species that can imitate sounds. "It started with an obscure reference about an Australian musk duck and ended in a nice paper."

  • Man-made chemicals could be stressing out marine...
    on September 2, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    Marine mammals are grappling with climate change, but now a researcher has joined FIU to study whether chemical contaminants are adding an additional layer of stress to this already tense situation.