Daily Mail] Dolphins have long been considered to be intelligent, but scientists are only now starting to unravel the true complexity of their brains and behavior. In many ways they behave like humans - they form social groups and cliques, they have previously been taught to recognize 'alphabets' of symbols and many have even attempted to befriend us. Now, a book discusses how this high level of intelligence could stem from the mammals having what's known as a collective consciousness, with the author claiming they 'may know something that we don't'.
The points are raised in Susan Casey's book 'Voices in the Ocean'.
Ms Casey wrote the book after she encountered a pod of spinner dolphins. She admitted that this first experience made her want to explore the 'strange, enduring, occasionally tragic, and often wonderful relationship between humans and dolphins' and set off to learn more about the creatures.
Over the past 50 million years the brains of dolphins have evolved and expanded dramatically in size. At the same time, their bodies have shrunk, their teeth have become smaller and they have developed high-frequency hearing. The limbic system in a dolphin's brain is responsible for the emotions in the same way as it is in human brains. While most vertebrates evolved this region early and kept it pretty much intact, the system in the brains of dolphins developed further.
Odors, for example, are indistinguishable underwater so the hippocampus of dolphins - a region linked to their olfactory sense - diminished, Ms Casey explained. 'Meanwhile, their paralimbic area grew huge, so densely jammed with neurons that it blurped out an extra lobe,' she said. 'There's a jubilee of tissue packed into this area, an exuberance of grey matter that scientists believe relates to all things feeling - and no other mammal has anything quite like it.'
During an interview with neuroscientist Lori Marino, Ms Casey asked whether the animals' nature was the reason why dolphins have such large brains. Ms Marino said this unique evolution suggests the animals are 'doing something very sophisticated or complex while they're processing emotions' and their brains may have adapted for a type of connectivity unprecedented in the animals kingdom. Ms Marino calls this a 'collective soul'. Read More