Zooillogix

Scientists studying Amazon river dolphins have discovered that males use gifts to woo potential mates. Not only that, but the male dolphins appear to give better gifts to more prized females, and the dolphins who bring the most gifts seem to sire the most offspring. The best gift? A bouquet of river weeds!

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Dark green weeds signify love. Brown weeds? Friendship.

After a three-year study in the Brazilian Amazon, Dr. Tony Martin, of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge has returned with his findings. Dr. Martin observed that…

…when a male was carrying a gift to a female, the other males in the group would act more aggressively. He also found juvenile’s and females to carry gifts seemingly while playing.

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True, he DID bring me a rancid bouqet of stinking filth which was SO sweet, but it’s been three weeks and we haven’t had our RDT yet!

In this article in the well regarded science publication the Daily Mail, Martin explains that gift giving is a sign of culture, something that only a few of the higher species on the Earth, such as chimps, bonobos and humans, possess.

We might argue with that assumption, however, on the grounds that the Daily Mail is precise proof that human beings do NOT possess any culture whatsoever.

Comments

  1. #1 Ed
    December 6, 2007

    Maybe brown weeds are the river dolphin version of carnations. They say “Well, I couldn’t be bothered to get some nice green weeds. Honestly, you’re not really a looker, but hey, endangered species can’t be choosers. Or some such.”

  2. #2 bill's sister nina
    December 6, 2007

    i dated a guy once with a real strong weed bouquet.

    (obvious i know, but someone had to say it. right?)

  3. #3 Lassi Hippeläinen
    December 7, 2007

    “…in the Brazilian Amazon, Dr. Tony Martin, of the British Antarctic Survey…”

    I think I need a stiff drink.

  4. #4 Jenbug
    December 7, 2007

    gift giving is a sign of culture,

    What an interesting choice of words! I read that animal behavioralists are still not sure why your cat will bring you a chewed up dead mouse or lizard every now and then, as the behavior occurs outside of a mating context, and cats exist in a much more loose social matrix than dogs or primates. I know there are oodles of other reasons an animal might present a ‘gift’ but I never would have ascribed ‘culture’ to it. A ‘semi-conscious psychological awareness of others’ maybe, or even some instinctual form of reciprocal altruism.

    Being an armchair biologist is FUN!

  5. #5 Laughing Stone
    December 7, 2007

    Gift-giving only in higher species? In some species of flies, the males will wrap up gifts of food for the females or even present them with empty bubbles to earn mating rights. That’s not culture, that’s sexual selection – the same for these dolphins.

  6. #6 stogoe
    December 7, 2007

    That’s not culture, that’s sexual selection – the same for these dolphins.

    By the same token, though, humans then have sexual selection and no differentiable culture.

    Which I’m okay with, but you may not be, depending on your level of human exceptionalism.

  7. #7 Laughing Stone
    December 8, 2007

    Humans do have culture independent of sexual selection. Literature, myths, music, poetic language, etc, that create a stronger societal bond without direct benefit to an individual’s mating chances or food consumption. I do believe other animals have signs of culture, but I don’t think that this example in river dolphins is one.

  8. #8 Brian
    December 9, 2007

    If what the Daily Mail says is true then dung beetles are the most cultured creatures around.

  9. #9 Benny
    December 10, 2007

    Laughing Stone- I’m not sure I agree with you totally. You say that making “music” is “…without direct benefit to an individual’s mating chances…” My best friend is in a band, and I can say for certain that it has greatly increased his mating chances, and continues to do so every night.

  10. #10 Jenbug
    December 10, 2007

    Literature, myths, music, poetic language, etc, that create a stronger societal bond without direct benefit to an individual’s mating chances or food consumption

    But that isn’t entirely true, Laughing Stone. Poets, artists and such–all throughout history and certainly now– often receive the benefit of food and monetary gifts through a wealthy patron or through selling their work, the creation of which otherwise would not allow them time to hold down a ‘full-time job.’ Of course this is widely generalized but you know what I mean; how much art, music and other forms of culture would not have existed without others supporting the creator and thus ensuring their survival, ie their continued living state, and therefore the possibility of reproduction?

  11. #11 Dave Briggs
    December 11, 2007

    In this article in the well regarded science publication the Daily Mail, Martin explains that gift giving is a sign of culture, something that only a few of the higher species on the Earth, such as chimps, bonobos and humans, possess.

    Glad to see the dolphins caught on! LOL! I have been getting smiles with the flowers for years. They did us humans one better by getting them with stinking river weeds! LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  12. #12 danielle
    February 26, 2008

    hi nice job but wheres the pretty pic

  13. #13 cynthia
    March 4, 2008

    the dolphine r so so so so soso so soso soso soso cute

  14. #14 gabialle
    April 11, 2008

    I love dolphins where were these dolphins spotted

  15. #15 DOLPHIN LVR
    April 11, 2008

    Dolphins are soooooooo amazing and very cute I love how they practically surf the waves.Also I love watching little baby dolphins being born and growing up to be a healthy adult.I want to be a Marine Biologist and learn more about these smart and wonderful animals.

  16. #16 chantelle
    July 16, 2008

    this is a funny pic i showed my mum and dad and they started laughthig

  17. #17 chantelle
    July 16, 2008

    dolphins are sooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool and amazing and cute i wish i had one as a pet but is cant stay in the bath

  18. #18 dooode
    December 15, 2008

    dolphins have already been proven to have learned cultures. a captured dolphin learned treading water on his tail from the domestic trick dolphins and when released taught it to a tribe of dolphins of the coast of australia that has succesfully passed the trick onto its young.

  19. #19 ym
    April 9, 2010

    I guess Martin never had pets.

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