Bottlenose dolphins can establish pals by tasting their urine

We already knew that bottlenose dolphins recognise one another by means of their signature whistles, however now it appears the style of their urine additionally performs a task


20 May 2022

Bottlenose dolphins

A pair of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates) within the Pacific Ocean

Andrey Nekrasov/Alamy

Bottlenose dolphins can recognise acquainted people simply by tasting their urine, much like how the odor of a pal’s fragrance might be a part of our psychological illustration of them.

Jason Bruck at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and his colleagues discovered that bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates) spent about 3 times longer sampling water that contained urine collected from acquainted dolphins in contrast with unfamiliar ones, suggesting they recognised their pals’ distinctive urine tastes.

This sampling concerned “opening their mouths and running their tongues through the water where we poured the urine in front of them”, says Bruck.

Bottlenose dolphins are additionally identified to establish one another by means of signature whistles that they devise early in life. The newest discovering signifies they will recognise one another in multiple means – both by means of style or sound.

Interestingly, the dolphins had been discovered to research areas for longer after they might style a pal’s urine and concurrently hear their whistle performed by means of a speaker, in contrast with when the whistle of one other identified particular person was performed.

It suggests they’ve ideas of particular person pals of their minds that join their distinctive style and sound, says Bruck. This is much like how we now have psychological representations of our pals that combine a number of parts just like the odor of their fragrance and the sound of their voice.

“While that might sound easy to do for a human, animals don’t always do that,” says Bruck.

Being in a position to establish different dolphins by means of urine is beneficial as a result of it hangs round, he says. “If the urine cue can persist, then another dolphin would be able to detect that and determine if a past ally or enemy is in the area,” says Bruck. Another benefit is having the ability to detect potential mates, he says.

Dolphins generally examine one another’s genitals, together with throughout courtship, which can present a possibility to pattern one another’s urine, says Bruck.

We know they have to style one another’s urine somewhat than odor it as a result of they don’t have useful odor methods, he says.

At this stage, bottlenose dolphins are the one identified species that may establish acquainted people primarily based on style alone. Other sorts of dolphins might do the identical factor, however this can have to be explored in future analysis, says Bruck.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm7684

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