In a recent BBC article and in the journal Ethology, researchers have found that when different species of dolphin meet they “speak” an intermediate language. The species in this study were the Guyana and the Bottlenose dolphins. The Bottlenose are the larger of the two and often harass the Guyana.
When each species is isolated they make their own special pattern of sounds but when they encounter one another they alter the communication pattern and use a common language.
Dr. Laura May-Collado, a biologist at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, discovered this anomaly while studying the dolphins off the coast of Costa Rica. The Bottlenose normally have longer, lower, regulated tones and Guyana make high pitch noises. She has observed the two species swimming together and changing their expressions to a common language which seems to be an averae of the two.
She still isn’t sure if they are really communicating or if they are trying to imitate each other. The difficulty was that she could not isolate one of each species but rather a recording of an entire group communicating at the same time.
It is unknown if the dolphins were discussing fish, swimming, or telling jokes.
Read the full BBC article.
Photo: Creative Commons