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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.

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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