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.