They played those sounds back to the dolphins, along with whistles from dolphins familiar to the animals and whistles from strangers. When the dolphins heard their own signature whistle [Altered dolphin whistle] they routinely responded with that same sound. [Dolphin whistle sound] That reaction only happened twice when they heard sounds from their pals and not at all when they heard the alien dolphin. The research is in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Stephanie L. King and Vincent M. Janik, Bottlenose dolphins can use learned vocal labels to address each other] The researchers think dolphin signature whistles serve as self-identification, and maybe even as a label for addressing each other—just like a name. —Cynthia Graber [The above text is a transcript of this podcast.] [Dolphin sounds courtesy of Stephanie L. King and Vincent M. Janik, Saint Andrews University] Follow Scientific American on Twitter @SciAm and @SciamBlogs. Visit ScientificAmerican.com for the latest in science, health and technology news.
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