Are Dolphins Self-Aware?

Douglas Adams was right! Dolphins ARE the second most intelligent creatures on the planet! Their intelligence is second only to mice… urmm… I mean… human beings!

New research based on MRI scans on dolphin brains reveal very complex structures. Not only that, the particular region of the brain associated with processing emotional information seems to be expanded. Does this mean that dolphins are highly emotional creatures?

Of course, MRI scans and brain structures by themselves do not provide conclusive evidence for high-level intelligence. However, earlier experiments in which dolphins were discovered to have the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror, in addition to to the fact that dolphins have been observed to use tools, learn culturally and understand abstract concepts – all these point to the possibility that dolphins are somewhat self-aware creatures.

Painting by Christian Lassen, one of my favourite artists
Is evolution bringing about consciousness and self-awareness in dolphins? If this is really happening, it will be only the second time in history that such high-level intelligence has evolved on planet Earth, the first time being developed in primates. And if this is true, does it mean that the development of self-awareness and intelligence is convergent, just as the evolution of wings in insects, reptiles, birds and mammals? What will this mean for the evolution of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe?

Read more here and here


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