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Dolphins Show Earliest Signs of Self-Recognition Among Mammals

A multi-year study that included the youngest members of our dolphin colony—Bayley and Foster—has resulted in important findings about the cognitive function of bottlenose dolphins.

  • Animals

The youngest members of our dolphin colony, Bayley and Foster, were part of a multi-year study published earlier this month in the PLoS One scientific journal. The study demonstrated that dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror earlier than children.

This is a significant finding for a variety of reasons. First, it helps to further contextualize the sophistication of dolphin cognition. Bayley began exhibiting self-recognition at seven months, five months earlier than children and 17 months earlier than chimpanzees. Second, it creates a pathway for researchers to better understand how this level of cognitive function effects a breadth of other developmental and social milestones for bottlenose dolphins.

To learn more about this study, read The New York Times' story.

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