By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
About 20 years ago, a group of 56 dolphins that used to live together were separated into different zoos and aquariums. After so many years apart, would the dolphins remember each other at all? This is the question that Dr. Jason Bruck, a researcher from the University of Chicago, had on his mind when he decided to test their memories.
Bruck got a hold of the records from the original group of dolphins to see which of them once lived together, then devised a simple test. He recorded whistles of the dolphins that used to be buddies as well as similar sounding whistles of dolphins they never met. Then, he played both kinds of whistles to see if the dolphins could tell the difference.
“When they are familiar with the call, the dolphins are more likely to approach the speakers for longer periods of time,” said Bruck. “If they are unfamiliar with the call they are more likely to ignore what I am playing. It’s unprecedented in the study of animal behavior to find memories this long.”
This may not seem too important, but according to the researcher, it’s amazing that the dolphins can still remember what their friends sound like after 20 years apart! Bruck says this study is evidence that dolphins can be surprisingly human in their ability to remember so far back.
Featured image courtesy of Pete Markham on Flickr.