Subject: Re: Cetaceans

Al Romero (aromero@ACC.FAU.EDU)
Fri, 11 Apr 1997 09:07:08 -0500 (EST)

At 07:38 PM 4/10/97 -0700, you wrote:
>My name is Matyi Kaszanitzky, I live in Budapest, Hungary, I`m a 
>u.student at the Technical U. of Budapest, I`m gonna be mechanichal 
>engeneer, I learn applied mechanics, this is about me for You to know who 
>you are talking to.
>I`m a member of a Rotaract Club where in about one an a half months I`d 
>like to speek about the whales and dolpihns to my friends there.
>I already know many things about these anymals, if I can say this at all, 
>I`m rather to say unbeleavable creatures, but I`d like to get known more 
>datas, more exact knowledge about their extra abilities, what we, people 
>don`t have. I don`t wanna tell them about the fashional informations of 
>Cetaceans like how big they are or why they get out to the beaches and 
>why we can`t help them. I`d like more to speek about their smartness, 
>inteligency (of the bottlenosed dolphin and the blue whale) or their 
>echolocational possibilities, I want to tell them such abilities of these 
>amasing anymals what they may even won`t believe. But for this I need 
>some infos. I ask you if you can suggest me www-sites to look at or can 
>send me some datas.
>Half a year ago I read about John Lilly`s ideas about the blue whales 
>comunications between each other in a newspaper, it said they can even 
>show hologram-like pictures to each other what I did`n think is serious, 
>but I`m interested these kind of researches, and I would like to read of 
>this not in the papers but from more serious sources.
>Thanks for your help:
>Kaszanitzky MAtyas
>Budapest 1082.
>Baross u.78.

Dear Friend:

Intelligence and communication are two of the most fascinating and, at the
same time, controversial issues in the study of cetaceans.

The weight of the brain as a percentage of the body weight varies between
0.25 and 1.5 among toothed cetaceans. In humans it is about 1.9%. From the
structural viewpoint dolphins and other cetaceans have a very well-developed
neocortex, the region of the brain in charge of processing information.
There is little question that based on their social behavior we can say that
most cetaceans appeared to be very intelligent, although their mental
abilities have been developed for skills mostly different than those
developed by human for the simple reason that humans and cetaceans live in
different environments and faced different challanges. Additionally, ways to
measure intelligence among humans is still a matter of controversy, let
alone to try to compare human intelligence with that of other animal species.

Regarding communication we know it does happen not only acoustically but
also visually. The more we study this topic the more intriguing the results
of the investigations are. For example, several years ago it was believed
that the "click" sounds were produced for echolocation purposes and the
"songs" for communication purposes.  Now we know that such dichotomy is not
longer true with at least many "clicks" being used for communication as
well. However, the difficulty of studying these animals in natural
conditions has created problems in interpreting many of the results obtained
in laboratory conditions. We also need to know more about the social
behavior of these creatures before trying to establish clear-cut
interpretations of those sounds.

I hope this can help you.

Best wishes,

Aldemaro Romero, Ph.D.		
Florida Atlantic University	(954)236-1125	
College of Liberal Arts		(954)236-1150 (F)
Department of Biology
2912 College Ave.,
Davie, FL 33314