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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.

  • Blue whales switch to daytime singing before...
    on October 1, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    Through the use of two advanced audio recording technologies, researchers have found that blue whales switch from nighttime to daytime singing when they are starting to migrate.

  • Vessel noise present year-round at Cordell Bank...
    on September 29, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    The environment in the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of San Francisco is not a refuge from the noise generated by ship traffic, the first underwater marine acoustic study of the region has shown.

  • Call of the wild: Individual dolphin calls used...
    on August 27, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    A new study has shown for the first time that acoustic monitoring can be used in place of photographs to generate abundance estimates of dolphin populations.

  • Ichthyosaur's last meal is evidence of Triassic...
    on August 20, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    Some 240 million years ago, a dolphin-like ichthyosaur ripped to pieces and swallowed another marine reptile only a little smaller than itself. Then it almost immediately died and was fossilized, preserving the first evidence of megapredation, or a large animal preying on another large animal.

  • Study finds high levels of toxic pollutants in...
    on August 6, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Researchers examined toxins in tissue concentrations and pathology data from 83 stranded dolphins and whales from 2012 to 2018. They looked at 11 different animal species to test for 17 different substances. The study is the first to report on concentrations in blubber tissues of stranded cetaceans of atrazine, DEP, NPE and triclosan. It also is the first to report concentrations of toxicants in a white-beaked dolphin and in Gervais' beaked whales.


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.

  • Crisis in the Galapagos: Chinese fishing fleets...
    on October 23, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Just south of the Galapagos' Marchena Island, there's a dive spot known by locals as the "fish arena."

  • Endangered vaquita remain genetically healthy...
    on October 23, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    The critically endangered vaquita has survived in low numbers in its native Gulf of California for hundreds of thousands of years, a new genetic analysis has found. The study found little sign of inbreeding or other risks often associated with small populations.

  • Plastic found in southern right whale in Argentina
    on October 23, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    Scientists found plastic debris in the digestive tract of a southern right whale stranded in Argentina, according to a study from the Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program, co-led by the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine; and Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas in Argentina.

  • Seeing is no longer believing: The manipulation...
    on October 21, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    A peace sign from Martin Luther King, Jr, becomes a rude gesture; President Donald Trump's inauguration crowd scenes inflated; dolphins in Venice's Grand Canal; and crocodiles on the streets of flooded Townsville—all manipulated images posted as truth.

  • Back in the pink: Hong Kong dolphins enjoy rare...
    on October 16, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Rare pink dolphins are returning to the waters between Hong Kong and Macau after the coronavirus pandemic halted ferries, but scientists remain deeply concerned about their long-term survival in one of the world's busiest sea lanes.