Dolphins name themselves

They also answer to those chosen ‘names’

By Stephen Ornes, 16:04 PM July 24, 2013

Wild bottlenose dolphins (one shown) respond to hearing their "signature whistles." These individual, high-pitched tunes appear to serve as the animals' names. Credit: Courtesy of V. Janik, University of St. Andrews

To call a dolphin, just whistle a squeaky shout-out.

Bottlenose dolphins answer to high-pitched bursts of sound. But each animal responds to only one specific trill. That trill is called its “signature whistle,” explain Stephanie King and Vincent Janik of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Their new finding appeared June 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Each dolphin develops a signature whistle — a distinct tune — for itself. Dolphins broadcast their tun...

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