How much of the brain do dolphins use?

Throughout this article we are going to answer the question ‘’How much of the brain do dolphins use?’’ and will observe different curiosities and information related to dolphins high cognitive capacity.

How much of the brain do dolphins use?

Dolphins use their entire brain. The brain of a dolphin is superior to that of a human being, not only in its size in relation to the rest of the body, but also in terms of its structure: the cortex, the evolutionarily newest part of the brain and the area where awareness of oneself and the environment is generated, it is more complex in dolphins.

Dolphins are one of the most valued and popular animals in the world. It is an animal species that has inspired humans since ancient times, with even romantic overtones and is often a symbol of freedom, peace and joy.

Among its many qualities, the intelligence of dolphins is one of the most valued, along with its sociability and capacity for empathy both with its species and with others (including humans).

And it is that the dolphin has been identified along with other cetaceans, primates, elephants and some species of birds such as crows as one of the most intelligent non-human animal species (surpassing many of them incapacity).

Curiosities about the intelligence of dolphins

Most people know that dolphins are very intelligent beings, but the truth is that there is a lot of information that is unknown or that can draw attention to this issue. Below we leave you a series of interesting facts about these beings that make us appreciate the high level of intelligence of dolphins.

1. They have a language

Dolphins not only have great intelligence, but also capabilities that until a few centuries ago were considered the exclusive heritage of human beings. One of them is that of language. Like other cetaceans such as whales, it has been observed that dolphins enjoy a complex communication system based on their characteristic clicks, being able to identify different elements with them and even apparently refer to their emotional state.

2. They have their own name

Linked to the above, different investigations have verified that the human being is not the only creature that is identified by his peers in a symbolic way, with a distinctive name for each one of us. And it is that it has been verified by registering their language that dolphins use these whistles to address others, possessing whistles that identify other subjects.

3. They use tools

One of the aspects that has been most linked to cognitive capacity is the ability to use existing resources in the environment in a creative way in order to achieve a specific objective. It has been observed that dolphins are capable of this, using among other elements marine sponges when looking for food among corals. 

This requires considerable cognitive skills, understanding the fact that they can experience harm and the need to use an item to avoid it, as well as find it and put it to practical use.

4. They have sex for pleasure

Most animals reproduce only in seasons when the females are fertile. Dolphins, like some primates and humans, are one of the few animals that do not consider sex only in their fertile phases, but have sex regularly for the sole purpose of obtaining pleasure. In addition to this, they carry out different courtship behaviors that they seem to enjoy.

5. Accompany in the last moments

When a dolphin is in its last moments, it is possible to observe how its group tends to help its own bodies to rise to the surface, in such a way that the creature can keep its blowhole (the hole through which they breathe) out of the water in order to be able to breathe more comfortably to alleviate your suffering. 

It is a sample not only of the intelligence of dolphins, but also of the ability to empathize with these creatures.

6. They can commit suicide

Although animal suicide is something much discussed, it has been observed that many dolphins seem to decide to end their life either by stopping breathing (in the dolphin breathing is not unconscious and automatic but requires control on their part), to feed or even repeatedly bumping into rocks or objects. 

This requires sufficient cognitive capacity to understand what death is and how it can be caused, a capacity that dolphins seem to have.

7. They have culture

A sample of the intelligence of dolphins is their ability to transmit knowledge to their peers. It has been observed how in some cases of dolphins that have been in captivity how, after being taught some skill or way of doing certain actions, these ended up being replicated by a large part of their group, having been transmitted learned from the original.

It has also been observed that the language or the way of communicating can vary between different groups of these animals, and the existence of learned “dialects” can be observed. Likewise, social play, mutual cooperation, taking care of other people’s offspring and the transmission of hunting strategies have been seen as signs of culture within these animals.

8. Brain structure is complex

The intelligence of dolphins has been an element that has aroused the curiosity of many people, having carried out different analyzes and investigations in this regard. 

At the neuroanatomical level, it has been observed that they present a very complex brain structure, with a very high level of encephalization (it was even proposed that in some cases they even possess greater intellectual capacity than humans) and a size that on average exceeds ours. 

In fact, it is one of the animals that has the largest brain in relation to its body size.

9. They recognize themselves in the mirror

Some classic experiments carried out with different animals such as dolphins show that they have the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror. 

This implies the notion of an I different from the rest, the recognition of one’s own characteristics and actions and the fact that a reflection is not a different creature that is imitating us but the product of refraction. We are facing one more sample of the intelligence of dolphins.

10. They empathize with other species

Possibly we have seen in a movie how a dolphin saves a swimmer or a castaway from a shark attack or from drowning. Although it may seem an exaggeration or even a display of romanticism, the truth is that it is something that happens in reality.

And is that dolphins have the ability to empathize not only with beings of the same species but also with those of others. There are multiple cases in which these animals (and we are talking about animals in the wild, not trained for it) have saved the lives of many people by acting as bait or by surrounding a group of dolphins to a human being in order to protect them. 

This protective behavior directed at other species has also been observed, such as in some cases of whales attacked by sharks. They are able to understand that another creature is suffering or, in our case, that it is drowning, something that requires a high intellectual capacity.

11. Non-human persons

Due to the very high level of intelligence of dolphins and their multiple cognitive abilities, different movements and proposals have appeared so that dolphins receive the consideration of “non-human persons”, making them holders of the same rights. 

This has happened in India, where the Central Zoo Authority has banned shows with these animals, as well as in Costa Rica, Hungary and Chile. Also different zoos in Spain, such as Barcelona, ​​have prohibited such shows.

In addition, some organizations have requested the approval of the declaration of rights of cetaceans, based on the high sensitivity and intelligence of these beings.

Brain functions 

The largest part of the brain for both dolphins and humans is the neocortex, where the major thought processes occur. Other animals, like sharks, have a more developed olfactory part instead of this zone. This also happens in dogs: although they have a neocortex it is smaller in size than that of a human, while their sense of smell is much more developed.

Their communication skills are also very high, understanding some basic commands, although not as complicated as ours. Dolphins that are in captivity can answer their owners’ questions with yes or no. 

In addition, an artificial language was created for communication between humans and dolphins. They are one of the few animals that recognize themselves in mirrors and their social capacities are very high.

Studies have shown that dolphin genes have changed over the years, and many of these changes have to do with the brain. Many of the genes have to do with the nervous system and metabolism, which is involved because brain tissues use more energy than others.

These changes are what likely influenced the advanced intelligence of the dolphins. The evolution of these animals has been slower over the years, something that is also characteristic of large-brained animals, such as humans.

In short, due to its size and functions, the brain of dolphins could resemble the human. According to their body mass compared to their size and communication capacity, it could be said that they are intelligent animals.

Curiosities about the dolphin brain

1. The size of the brain compared to its body mass is 4 to 5 times greater: all this makes it close to us since it has a fairly large brain in relation to the size of the body, but it is not what is most important, Well, the relationships you can make are.

2. The neocortex of the brain is the most important part, as in humans: this is the part in which the most important thought processes occur. Other animals, such as sharks, have a more developed part of smell than this area, the same as dogs.

3. Some communication skills out of the ordinary: in this sense, the dolphin has great communication skills. Of course, the basic commands they have are not as complicated as those of humans. For example, captive dolphins are able to answer questions posed by their owners in a positive or negative way.

4. There is an artificial language to communicate between humans and dolphins: which greatly facilitates communication and knowledge about this animal. It is also one of the few animals that are capable of recognizing themselves in mirrors.

5. Dolphin genes have changed over the years: most of these changes have a lot to do with the brain, as well as the nervous system or metabolism, where brain tissues use more energy than others.

We are facing changes and circumstances that in one way or another have considerably influenced the great intelligence that dolphins show. The evolution of these animals has been slower as the years have passed, something that happens in animals with a large brain, as in that of the human being.

We can conclude by saying that due to the size and functions of the brain of dolphins, it could resemble that of humans. If we compare the body mass with the size of the brain and the communication capacity they have, it is possible to say that they are animals with intelligence.

FAQS: How much of the brain do dolphins use?

Are dolphins as intelligent as humans?

Dolphins – social, playful and communicative – are widely considered the second most intelligent animals after humans.

What animal has the highest IQ?

Generalities of the octopus, the animal with the most logical intelligence. The octopus represents the invertebrate species with the highest IQ in the world.

Are dolphins more intelligent than dogs?

Dolphins are better than dogs at solving problems.

What is smarter orca or dolphin?

In the animal kingdom, the crown of the most intelligent has been held, from the first scientific studies, by whales and dolphins.

What is the IQ of dolphins?

The La Plata dolphin has an EQ of approximately 1.67; the Ganges river dolphin of 1.55; the orca of 2.57; the bottlenose dolphin of 4.14; and the tucuxi dolphin of 4.56.

Throughout this article we answered the question ‘’How much of the brain do dolphins use?’’ and observed different curiosities and information related to dolphins high cognitive capacity.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!

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