These dolphins have complex social relationships

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Des chercheurs de la Florida International University (États-Unis) montrent comment le grand dauphin de l’océan Indien noue des relations sociales complexes pour maximiser ses chances de reproduction. © kobayashi, Adobe Stock

For forty years, researchers have been studying the behavior of dolphins living near Shark Bay, Australia. Finally, uncover the largest and most complex social network known so far among non-human animals. All this with an idea in mind… You may also be interested
[EN VIDÉO] 1,500 dolphins play with a baby humpback whale Filmed by a drone, this amazing scene shows an ill-explained encounter between a large group of dolphins (about 1,500) and a humpback whale with its calf, off the coast of California in the monterey bay . Swimming very close to the large cetaceans, the dolphins splash them. The whale, perhaps embarrassed, dives, followed by its calf, and the dolphins ride the waves as they do near ships. More than forty different species of dolphins live in the world’s oceans. And one of them has surprised ethologists for several decades. The Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphin — Tursiops aduncus, for the purists. Because he seems to have developed a cooperative network of rare complexity. The most complex cooperation network in the world, even. Apart from the one formed by humans, today we learn from researchers at Florida International University (United States) who have been studying the behavior of dolphins in the waters of Shark Bay (Australia) for about forty years. They had already discovered that each male dolphin forms a close relationship with one or two other male dolphins. And that these pairs or triplets are then found in larger groups – of around fifteen individuals – which themselves fit into even larger alliances – reaching around fifty individuals. A bit like each dolphin is a member of a platoon, a company and a regiment. This time, based on data collected between 2001 and 2006 on more than 120 male dolphins, researchers from Florida International University reveal how connected each of the dolphins studied. , directly or indirectly, to others. Proving that these dolphins even have relationships with males beyond their three-tier alliance system. This is how they eventually form the largest known social network of any species other than humans.Dolphins and humans, not so different How? Spending time together. Swimming and diving side by side. Stroking the fins. Or communicating by whistling. And all this seems to give them a very clear idea of ​​who is an ally and who is not. Because ? In particular to increase your chances of reproduction. Because yes, it would seem that it is mainly to seduce females that males associate. Also to defend themselves from other dolphins who would be tempted to conquer the females coveted by a group. According to anthropologists from the University of Zurich, also involved in this work, it is even more the strength of third-order social ties that provides advantages in this area. In the long term, moreover. Because these relationships can last several decades. Anthropologists? Yes, you read that right. Because they sensed that dolphin societies, like those of our primate cousins, could be interesting models for understanding the social and cognitive evolution of humans. Until then, in fact, no non-human animal had yet been caught forming multilevel alliances to achieve goals, “the social brain hypothesis”. The idea that maintaining many relationships with other human beings favors the development of advanced brains, endowed with advanced intelligence. Characteristics that dolphins and humans share. Interested in what you just read?
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