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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.

  • How long does a whale feed? New data gives...
    on September 11, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Researchers using electronic tags were able to monitor blue and fin whales off the coast of Southern California over multiple weeks, providing new insight into the feeding behaviors of the two largest whale species.

  • New whale species discovered along the coast of...
    on September 3, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    A new beaked whale species Berardius minimus, which has been long postulated by local whalers in Hokkaido, Japan, has been confirmed.

  • Modeling predicts blue whales' foraging behavior,...
    on July 18, 2019 at 3:03 am

    Scientists can predict where and when blue whales are most likely to be foraging for food in the California Current Ecosystem, providing new insight that could aid in the management of the endangered population in light of climate change and blue whale mortality due to ship strikes.

  • New research helps predict locations of blue...
    on July 10, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    A new model based on daily oceanographic data and the movements of tagged whales has opened the potential for stakeholders to see where in the ocean endangered blue whales are most likely to be so that ships can avoid hitting them.

  • Narwhals and belugas can interbreed
    on June 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    A team of researchers has compiled the first and only evidence that narwhals and beluga whales can breed successfully. DNA and stable isotope analysis of an anomalous skull from the Natural History Museum of Denmark has allowed researchers to confirm the existence of a narwhal-beluga hybrid.


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.

  • Genomic migration analysis shows antibiotic...
    on September 17, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    A Clemson University professor's research has documented the movement of antibiotic resistance in humans into animal species.

  • Antibiotic resistance surges in dolphins,...
    on September 15, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges in the world today since many common bacterial infections are developing resistance to the drugs once used to treat them, and new antibiotics aren't being developed fast enough to combat the problem.

  • The first observation of a stable torus of...
    on September 13, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    A team of researchers at Laroche Laboratory, Université Paris Diderot and Université de Lyon has recently collected the first measurements of the resonance frequencies of a stable torus of fluid. The method they used to collect these observations, outlined in a paper published in Physical Review Letters, could enable the modeling of a variety of large-scale structures that transiently arise in vortex rings.

  • Training surgeons like dogs, icky money win 2019...
    on September 13, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Training surgeons is as easy as training dolphins or dogs.

  • English Channel dolphins carry 'toxic cocktail'...
    on September 12, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Bottlenose dolphins in the English Channel harbor a "toxic cocktail" of chemicals, some of which have been banned for decades and which may be harming the rare marine mammals' health, scientists said Thursday.