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Captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) spontaneously using water flow to manipulate objects.


ABSTRACT: Several terrestrial animals and delphinids manipulate objects in a tactile manner, using parts of their bodies, such as their mouths or hands. In this paper, we report that bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) manipulate objects not by direct bodily contact, but by spontaneous water flow. Three of four dolphins at Suma Aqualife Park performed object manipulation with food. The typical sequence of object manipulation consisted of a three step procedure. First, the dolphins released the object from the sides of their mouths while assuming a head-down posture near the floor. They then manipulated the object around their mouths and caught it. Finally, they ceased to engage in their head-down posture and started to swim. When the dolphins moved the object, they used the water current in the pool or moved their head. These results showed that dolphins manipulate objects using movements that do not directly involve contact between a body part and the object. In the event the dolphins dropped the object on the floor, they lifted it by making water flow in one of three methods: opening and closing their mouths repeatedly, moving their heads lengthwise, or making circular head motions. This result suggests that bottlenose dolphins spontaneously change their environment to manipulate objects. The reason why aquatic animals like dolphins do object manipulation by changing their environment but terrestrial animals do not may be that the viscosity of the aquatic environment is much higher than it is in terrestrial environments. This is the first report thus far of any non-human mammal engaging in object manipulation using several methods to change their environment.

SUBMITTER: Yamamoto C 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4175997 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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