From: Tamera Jones, Planet Earth
Published February 29, 2012 07:05 AM

Dolphins and Signature Whistles

Wild dolphins use specific melodies called signature whistles to introduce themselves when they come across new groups of dolphins, researchers have discovered.



They say the tuneful exchanges are an important part of a greeting sequence that allows dolphins to recognise each other in the wild.

'These signature whistles are special, because they contain the dolphin's identity in the modulation pattern, or tune if you like, which the dolphin invents,' explains Dr Vincent Janik from the University of St Andrews, who led the study.

Signature whistles were first discovered in the 1960s. 'Researchers had already brought up the idea that they're whistles that dolphins use to identify themselves,' Janik says.

Scientists also noticed that captive dolphins use these whistles when apart from the rest of the group. But no-one had actually demonstrated their use in the wild – until now.

Dolphin image via Shutterstock

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