Friday, January 30, 2009

Dolphins Prepare Their Food!

In the "Who-Knew?" category, another fascinating bit on the animal kingdom. A beautiful proof of the elegance that is, Evolution.
Dolphins are capable sea chefs, scientists say
By Rob Taylor Rob Taylor Fri Jan 30

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Dolphins are the chefs of the seas, having been seen going through precise and elaborate preparations to rid cuttlefish of ink and bone to produce a soft meal of calamari, Australian scientists say.

A wild female Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin was observed going through the same series of complicated steps to prepare cuttlefish prey for eating in the Spencer Gulf, in South Australia state.

"It's a sign of how well their brains are developed. It's a pretty clever way to get pure calamari without all the horrible bits," Mark Norman, the curator of mollusks at Museum Victoria and a research team member, told the Canberra Times newspaper.

The research team, writing in the science journal PLoS One, said they repeatedly observed a female dolphin herding cuttlefish out of algal weed and onto a clear, sandy patch of seafloor.

The dolphin, identified using circular body scars, then pinned the cuttlefish with its snout while standing on its head, before killing it instantly with a rapid downward thrust and "loud click" audible to divers as the hard cuttlebone broke.

The dolphin then lifted the body up and beat it with her nose to drain the toxic black ink that cuttlefish squirt into the water to defend themselves when attacked.

Next the prey was taken back to the seafloor, where the dolphin scraped it along the sand to strip out the cuttlebone, making the cuttlefish soft for eating.

Norman and study co-author Tom Tregenza, from the University of Exeter, said the behavior exhibited between 2003 and 2007 was unlikely to be a rarity.

"In addition to our observations, individual bottlenose dolphins feeding at these cuttlefish spawning grounds have been observed by divers in the area to perform the same behavioral sequence," they said in the study.

"The feeding behavior reported here is specifically adapted to a single prey type and represents impressive behavioral flexibility for a non-primate animal."

A separate 2005 study provided the first sign dolphins may be capable of group learning and using tools, with a mother seen teaching her daughters to break off sea sponges and wear them as protection while scouring the seafloor in Western Australia.

The mammals used the sponges "as a kind of glove" while searching for food, University of Zurich researcher Michael Krutzen told New Scientist magazine.

Other researchers have observed dolphins removing the spines from flathead fish prey and breaking meter-long Golden Trevally fish into smaller pieces for eating.

(Editing by Sugita Katyal)
One day, dolphins and humans can trade "recipes".

Peace, kids.


betmo said...

and to think we have the arrogance to assume we are the best species ever :) i think that there is pretty clear evidence that most other animals are heads above :)

Lisa Allender said...

Betmo--We are just one more animal, albeit a smart one. (Although if we're so smart, why are we the ones destroying the planet?!)

Dot-Com said...

Off to see the dolphins to find inspiration for dinner :-) Great blog, by the way!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lisa,
I read this article a couple of days ago and thought "We finally aren't alone." I'm willing to put dolphins on the short list of animals to someday develop intelligence as great or surpassing humans.

Lisa Allender said...

Patrique--Hi there, honey!I posted this on Friday, and thank you for visiting, and commenting--I think you're right. Dolphins are just amazing!

Georg said...

Bonjour Lisa,

If I understood evolution correctly, those dolphins were were originally kind of dogs, several dozen million years ago.

And dogs and wolves are very astute animals.

But they have no hands and that is a severe limitation.


Lisa Allender said...

Georg--Hi there! I think dolphins could just "pound"(with their nose) their food, and it would probably be quite tasty!

Lisa Allender said...

Meant to add--That IS fascinating about dog/dolphin connection...I adore dogs. And love wolves.

Crafty Green Poet said...

This is a fascinating article. I always knew dolphins were smart!

Thanks for visiting my blog...

Lisa Allender said...

Crafty Green Poet-- Thanks for the comment. You rock, and so does your Blog.