Dolphins – Living Loose in the Ocean_Featured_, Nature Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
(Discovery News) An unprecedented open society of bottlenose dolphins has just been identified in Western Australia. Most mammals, including humans, live in areas with boundaries. This population of dolphins, described in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, has no such limits, even though dolphin relationships can be incredibly intense.
“Other mammals with complex social relationships live in a semi-closed group based on one or more reproductive females,” co-author Richard Connor told Discovery News, explaining that the groups or territories of these other animals “are defended by one or both sexes.”
“An open society is one without such defended boundaries,” added Connor, a biology professor at UMass Dartmouth.
He and colleagues Srdan Randic, William Sherwin and Michael Krutzen examined the ranging and behavior of over 120 adult dolphins in a large study area at Shark Bay, Western Australia. They focused on males and their very complex social lives.
Male bottlenose dolphins also were found to engage in extensive bisexuality, combined with periods of exclusive homosexuality. Male pairs, or even trios, cooperate to sequester and herd individual females during the mating season. Most males are also members of second order alliances consisting of 4 to 14 males. Such relationships appear to be long lasting, with one known 7-member group still intact after 17 years…
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