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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Female dolphins have begun to use tools. Can invasion be far behind?

As best the researchers can tell, a single dolphin may have invented the technique relatively recently and taught it to her kin. The simple innovation dramatically changed their behavior, hunting habits and social life, the researchers found. Those that adopted it became loners who spend much more time on the hunt than others and dive more deeply in search of prey. The sponging dolphins teach the technique to all their young, but only the females seem to grasp the idea.

"It is indisputably tool use," says primate anthropologist Craig Stanford at the University of Southern California, an authority on animal cognition and behavior who wasn't part of the dolphin research group. "Despite the fact they lack hands and legs, dolphins make do."

For those seeking a glimpse of our own beginnings, the dolphins of Shark Bay offer a hint of the inventive impulse when our earliest ancestors first shaped destiny by fashioning implements with their own hands.
Via MeFi.