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Dolphin Memories Span At Least 20 Years

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the how's-it-going-bob dept.

Science 110

sciencehabit writes "A new study reveals that bottlenose dolphins can remember each other's signature contact whistles — calls that function as names — for more than 20 years, the longest social memory ever recorded for a nonhuman animal. 'The ability to remember individuals is thought to be extremely important to the "social brain,"' says Janet Mann, a marine mammal biologist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the research. Yet, she notes, no one has succeeded in designing a test for this talent in the great apes — our closest kin — let alone in dolphins."

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Is is frrrist psssottttt (1)

Noogie Brown (889153) | about a year ago | (#44499979)

OOOH Yeah I'm the king!

Well, as for the great apes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500039)

we can always check the oldest entry in his journal

Re:Well, as for the great apes (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44500057)

we can always check the oldest entry in his journal

Hey, I resemble that remark!

Re:Well, as for the great apes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500099)

Oh, my! What do we have in this particular location? A rotting rectum, that's what! I'll pound your rancid rectum with my fetid, disgusting cock until absolutely nothing remains of your repugnant asshole! Oh, yeah! I'll shoot my tadpoles everywhere in your foul asshole! What say you?

Rancid assholes! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500047)

I heard a rumor on the grapevine that claimed that there are an abnormal amount of Slashdotters who have rancid, disease-ridden Bayer aspirin holes. I know the rumor is true; you can't hide it from my fetid ass-seeking cock! All of your rancid assholes will be invaded by my smelly cock, and your feces and my tadpoles will mix together to create rectum soup! The deepest reaches of your rotting rectums will be smooched by my disgusting cock! What say you?

If they had thumbs... (3, Funny)

eksith (2776419) | about a year ago | (#44500059)

...we'd be in so much trouble. It seems like there's a never ending list of surprises from these creatures.

Re:If they had thumbs... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500393)

Even if they had thumbs, I think they'd have a hard time discovering fire. ;)

Re:If they had thumbs... (1, Redundant)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44500415)

...we'd be in so much trouble. It seems like there's a never ending list of surprises from these creatures.

You think you're so special because you have thumbs and built cities and cars and rockets and all that. The dolphins, meanwhile, think they're special... because they didn't have to do any of that.

Re:If they had thumbs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44501935)

Why is this marked 0 redundant? Mods, this is clearly a reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All such references deserve 5 funny.

Re:If they had thumbs... (-1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44503647)

Why is this marked 0 redundant? Mods, this is clearly a reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All such references deserve 5 funny.

That was the old slashdot. The new slashdot has been overrun by hordes of hipsters and their ipads and skinny jeans and insist they're geeky because they downloaded and installed linux on one of their old computers.. played with it for a few hours, and then called it quits.

They haven't read the classics. They don't know about THGTTG... they haven't read the LOTR books and realized that whole business about Helm's Deep never happened... they probably didn't grow up hoping to be snatched away by The Doctor, or to live with the Beast because of his enormous library... and fuck the castle.

Face it.... the slashdot you knew is dead. It's just posers now. :(

Re:If they had thumbs... (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44503711)

The correct quote, posted in the same minute as yours, is one down and currently moderated +4 insightful. Yours, being a para, is redundant.

Nerds fighting over perceived slights, repetitive trolls, grammer/speeling pendants, low signal to noise ratio but occasionally entertaining noise. Same old /.

Re:If they had thumbs... (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44500417)

"Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons."

I doubt they'd give us much trouble really, too busy mucking about having a good time.

Re:If they had thumbs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44501231)

Yea and mankind really has nothing better to do than the Dolphins as well. Of course as Robots take out all the jobs over the next 20 years we may find this out.

Re:If they had thumbs... (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about a year ago | (#44502005)

If that were true then they would realize that we were getting in the way of their ability to muck about and have a good time. Consider the dolphin slaughters http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/03/04/taiji-2013 [takepart.com] and our general tendency to pollute the water they have their good time in. If they were really that intelligent then by now they would be at least working on the ability to wage war... against us!

Yes Because.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44502447)

Only smart people wage war

Re:If they had thumbs... (1)

Smauler (915644) | about a year ago | (#44500739)

It seems like there's a never ending list of surprises from these creatures.

I don't find this surprising at all... I'd always assumed that the more intelligent mammals remembered stuff. My dog certainly remembers people he's not seen for years (though anyone who knows him would hesitate to classify him as intelligent). Elephants are noted for it too, and I'm surprised there isn't evidence they remember longer than 20 years.

Re:If they had thumbs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44501023)

Elephants are noted for it too, and I'm surprised there isn't evidence they remember longer than 20 years.

There would be evidence for it except that there is also evidence that human researchers can't remember the study they were doing for more than 20 years. There was a big exception the other day - that tar dropping thing where apparently it was forgotten for a long time but remembered just in time for the tar to drop.

How is this surprising? (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44500081)

How is this surprising?

If my cat can remember the sound of my car I would hope a dolphin could do this.

Re:How is this surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500363)

It was really just meant as a contrast to Slashdot editors who have a demonstrated memory span of about 4 hours.

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year ago | (#44500387)

for 20 years ?

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44500433)

I don't think the cat will live that long.
I would assume any animal that lives multiples of that should be able to do so. I can recognize voices I have not heard for a decade. Why would animals that have such long lifespans not be able too? I would have been more surprised by the opposite outcome.

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#44500463)

A cat doesn't live for 20 years.

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | about a year ago | (#44500937)

A cat doesn't live for 20 years.

Mine did.

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about a year ago | (#44502027)

it happens though it is rare

Re:How is this surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500451)

Your cat remembers the sound of your car after not hearing it for 20 years?

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

KBehemoth (2519358) | about a year ago | (#44500477)

You're deluding yourself. Your furry parasite can't remember anything except his cold, unrelenting loathing for all humans and you in particular.

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44500601)

Incorrect. He clearly can tell the difference between a random car driving by or one of our cars.

When I noticed this I started testing it.

Re:How is this surprising? (4, Funny)

Rhacman (1528815) | about a year ago | (#44500687)

Great, so now DOGS are posting on Slashdot!

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

oreiasecaman (2466136) | about a year ago | (#44503609)

On the Internet nobody knows you're a dog...

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

Warhawke (1312723) | about a year ago | (#44504893)

Oblig. [chzbgr.com]

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44502161)

Remember: All dogs go to heaven, all cats go to hell. Where they get to spend eternity torturing their 'owners', who are now the size of mice.

Do you really think being nice to them will help? Have you met any cats?

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

azav (469988) | about a year ago | (#44501991)

You, human. You are the bringer of food.

Re:How is this surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44502119)

Your cat hears your car on a regular basis which reinforces its habits. If you were to isolate your cat from your car for 20 years and then witness your cat remembering your cars sound THEN that would be interesting.

Re:How is this surprising? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44502601)

After 20 years the now 10 year old cat would be very boring to observe.

Timeline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500087)

1. Don't eat dolphin
2. Don't eat pigs

(...2500 years of science passes in which the level of consciousness of various animals is "discovered", leading to the ethical stipulations...)

1. Don't eat dolphin
2. Don't eat pigs

We could have saved a lot of time here. Just sayin'.

Re:Timeline (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44500473)

1. Don't eat dolphin
2. Don't eat pigs

(...2500 years of science passes in which the level of consciousness of various animals is "discovered", leading to the ethical stipulations...)

1. Don't eat dolphin
2. Don't eat pigs

We could have saved a lot of time here. Just sayin'.

Hey, if pigs didn't want to be eaten they shouldn't have evolved to be so gorram delicious.

Re:Timeline (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44500599)

Hey, if pigs didn't want to be eaten they shouldn't have evolved to be so gorram delicious.

Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got enough sense enough to disregard its own faeces.

It had to be said. ;-)

Re:Timeline (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44500639)

You sound like a natural customer for the ingenious nutrient/parasite recycling system they call the Pig Toilet [wikipedia.org] !

Re:Timeline (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44500705)

Dude - most people clean their food before trying to cook/eat it.

Re:Timeline (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44500765)

Dude, Whoosh! It's a movie reference [imdb.com] there, hoss.

Re:Timeline (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44500913)

lol, been a while since I've see that one.

Still, were I in Vincent's shoes, I probably would have responded the same way.

Re:Timeline (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | about a year ago | (#44500745)

1. Don't eat dolphin

...except for the ones that blew all their money on instant lottery tickets.

Re:Timeline (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about a year ago | (#44506283)

I base my eating preferences on how well it goes with Tabasco source and I find Anonymous Coward meat is spiced up real good.

yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500137)

can they remember where they left their keys?

Crap (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500143)

I should probably apologize for a few things, then.

I yell my name all day (4, Interesting)

sinkasapa (2587241) | about a year ago | (#44500169)

Dolphins don't use personal names.

See "Dolphin naming?" by Mark Liberman
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003127.html [upenn.edu]

And "Dolphins using personal names, again" by Geoffrey K. Pullum
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=5453 [upenn.edu]

A choice quote:

Now, think about that. If you call out "Geoff Pullum!" in a crowded street, and I'm there within earshot, I'm likely to turn round and look at you. But what I am not likely to do is yell "Geoff Pullum!" back at you.

Why can't dolphins do intelligent and interesting things without people applying unfounded anthropomorphic qualities to their behavior?

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500365)

On the other hand, if a voice I recognize yells "ping!" in a crowded street, I will turn around and yell "ping!" back.

If I don't recognize the voice, not so much.

Re:I yell my name all day (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#44500725)

On the other hand, if a voice I recognize yells "ping!" in a crowded street, I will turn around and yell "ping!" back.

If I don't recognize the voice, not so much.

The correct reply is "pong!".

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | about a year ago | (#44501787)

On the other hand, if a voice I recognize yells "ping!" in a crowded street, I will turn around and yell "ping!" back.

If I don't recognize the voice, not so much.

The correct reply is "pong!".

I'm sorry, we were looking for "Destination host unreachable..." ;-)

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

Manfre (631065) | about a year ago | (#44502201)

On the other hand, if a voice I recognize yells "ping!" in a crowded street, I will turn around and yell "ping!" back.

If I don't recognize the voice, not so much.

The correct reply is "pong!".

The judges would also accept "Fire torpedoes!"

Re:I yell my name all day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500419)

Why can't dolphins do intelligent and interesting things without people applying unfounded anthropomorphic qualities to their behavior?

The same reason people believe in alien abduction. We don't want to be alone. Some of us don't even want us to be the most intelligent beings around. They want parents for humanity.

Re:I yell my name all day (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44502179)

Same reason they believe in god.

Re:I yell my name all day (5, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#44500715)

"Is there a Jeff Pullum here?"
"Yep, Jeff Pullum, right over here!"

The protocol actually makes a lot of sense --- especially in a crowded street (or dolphin pod), where lots of people are calling out at once. If you just answered "here!," it would be easy to confuse with a bunch of other people answering "here!" to other calls for their own names. This mechanism provides a clear two-way authentication handshake that your response is directed specifically back to the initial caller (without needing to know their name). Just because it's not the protocol that you use, doesn't mean it's not a perfectly good idea.

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

sinkasapa (2587241) | about a year ago | (#44506481)

I hope it was clear from the article that this is specifically about whether this communication fits with the human language concept of a proper name. It does seem like a fine way to communicate one's presence but there is much more to what constitutes a proper name in language.

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

John Bokma (834313) | about a year ago | (#44500753)

And how is your choice quote not anthropomorphic?

Timmy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500755)

Timmy! Timmy, Timmy!

Re:I yell my name all day (5, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#44501187)

A choice quote:

Now, think about that. If you call out "Geoff Pullum!" in a crowded street, and I'm there within earshot, I'm likely to turn round and look at you. But what I am not likely to do is yell "Geoff Pullum!" back at you.

Why can't dolphins do intelligent and interesting things without people applying unfounded anthropomorphic qualities to their behavior?

Um... that's exactly what the author you quote does - assumes that since humans wouldn't do it, dolphins wouldn't do it either.
 
As kind of a side note, the behavior he claims humans don't do is much like how we often communicated in the Navy when we couldn't see or look at the person we wanted to talk to.... If I was doing something I couldn't take my eyes off of or needed to get the attention of someone who was in earshot but not in sight, I'd call out "Clark!", and the expected rely was "Clark, Aye!" - indicating that he's heard me and was paying attention.

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

sinkasapa (2587241) | about a year ago | (#44506453)

Um... that's exactly what the author you quote does - assumes that since humans wouldn't do it, dolphins wouldn't do it either.

The point the author was making wasn't to contest that dolphins are doing something different than humans. His point was to emphasize that dolphins are doing something different than humans.

Apparently, dolphins have a means of verbally recognizing one another and nothing is being disputed about that. The quote was intended as an amusing way of pointing out how what dolphins are doing is different from the human use of proper names. The article linked to provides more detail.

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#44501261)

One might reply "This is Geoff Pullum" or similar if you're using a phone, radio, or some other form of audio-only communication.

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#44501773)

I'm glad I'm not the only one posting LL to /.

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

darkstar949 (697933) | about a year ago | (#44502061)

Why can't dolphins do intelligent and interesting things without people applying unfounded anthropomorphic qualities to their behavior?

On the same token, who said the anthropomorphic being applied aren't unfounded? There is a lot of evidence out there to support the fact that some animals aren't "dumb" so it's not unreasonable to speculate that some of them might be capable of communicating using mechanisms that we could both anthropomorphise and be complete incapable of understanding.

With regards to the argument that the "Language Log" is trying to make about signature whistles not acting like names, well, they are guilty of assuming that dolphin "grammar" would act the same as human languages. For all intensive purposes they are falling for the anthropomorphic as a result. Or to put in another way "Dolphins aren't following the rules of human grammar, therefore, signature whistles can't be names."

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#44503699)

For all intensive purposes

"For all intents and purposes"...

I understand a lot of the illiteracy in the world, that one has always puzzled me...

Re:I yell my name all day (1)

darkstar949 (697933) | about a year ago | (#44504165)

I understand a lot of the illiteracy in the world, that one has always puzzled me...

Pointing such things out does not make you appear couth, but rather more of a churl.

Let alone in dolphins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500219)

What the fuck?

Has the study revealed it, or hasn't it? If the study has revealed it, how did it do so without testing it?

Notes to self: (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | about a year ago | (#44500377)

Don't borrow money from dolphins. They will never let you forget it.
Don't ask bed bugs to help you move. They end up crashing at your place.
Don't hold hands with the armadillo. He's got leprosy.

At Least 5 Years for Gorillas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500385)

Social memory lasts at least five years in gorillas.

Damian Aspinall's reunion with wild gorilla, Kwibi [youtu.be]

Do not click. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500693)

Link is to random bullshit.

Re:At Least 5 Years for Gorillas (1)

KernelMuncher (989766) | about a year ago | (#44501585)

What about that lion that remembered the lady. I thought he was going to rip her head off but it was only a hug. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnYxhGmFPck [youtube.com]

And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500413)

They hate us.

NSA to build giant dolphin data storage farm (4, Funny)

Joiseybill (788712) | about a year ago | (#44500431)

With the conservative life span of current magnetic media at between 10-20 years, and (average) optical CD/ DVDs considerably less, the NSA has begun a pilot program code named "Faa love Pa" While the acronym is not clear, the Senate Intel Cmte. lauded this as a "green" initiative, and is encouraging tuna fisheries to collect living dolphins for use in the project. Dolphin memory lasts 20 years or more, reducing the need for additional rare-earth metals and greatly reduced electricity consumption. Dolphin memory is self-replicating, tolerant to mild EMF and power fluctuations, and primarily only requires renewable resources such as salt water and baitfish. The only technical hurdles researchers see are effectively encoding/decoding the massive amounts of illegally gathered data into dolphin-discrete packages, and the bandwidth needed to read/write operations. Researchers have not yet determined the optimal facility size, nor how the pods will best perform in cohesive groups. Dolphins are also ill-suited for complex elliptic-curve cryptography, opting instead for elliptic-curve swimming. Dolphin computing is not new. Natural behaviors include computing standards like PUSH and JUMP, and many have been trained to perform parallel operations. Those animals sourced from Chinese waters will be culled from the "pool" for security reasons. Another feature is the reduced disposal requirements. When the new dolphin media is replaced, old media is effectively rendered useless to forensic recovery techniques, and can be disposed of to feed other animals or in simple 'compost' rather than more costly recycling efforts.

Re:NSA to build giant dolphin data storage farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500789)

So this troll nonsense gets modded up but insightful posts that go against the /. hivemind get modded down? Sure.

Re:NSA to build giant dolphin data storage farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44501429)

This should be marked as funny. not Insightful.

Re:NSA to build giant dolphin data storage farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44501439)

Barely made it halfway through reading your comment before I just couldn't take it anymore. Way too funny.

So long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44500643)

... and thanks for the fish.

hello (-1, Offtopic)

Jessica Roy (3011797) | about a year ago | (#44500675)

like Carlos responded I am in shock that a single mom able to make $4260 in one month on the internet. did you see this site,........Buzz55.com... -->

Hmm... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44500717)

Does having an ARP Cache mean that my switch is a highly sophisticated social animal?

I'm Not Sure It's Quite True (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#44500779)

I could be wrong about this, but if I remember correctly, elephants can remember other elephants and humans for longer than 20 years. So I don't think this is "the longest recorded..." anything.

Re:I'm Not Sure It's Quite True (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44501021)

I could be wrong about this

You probably are.

While elephants are also reputed to have extremely long memories of up to 20 years, there is little scientific evidence of their abilities outside of family relationships. In this research paper, the dolphins were able to remember family members as well as strangers.

Re:I'm Not Sure It's Quite True (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#44502145)

"You probably are."

And so are you.

"... there is little scientific evidence of their abilities outside of family relationships..."

Fine. But OP and TFA say "the longest social memory ever recorded for a nonhuman animal".

Which makes your argument a straw-man; they say nothing about "family".

Re:I'm Not Sure It's Quite True (3, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44502331)

Actually this was the part of the quote I was really looking at:

While elephants are also reputed to have extremely long memories of up to 20 years

"Reputed" implies that there's not much scientific evidence of this at all, with regard to either family or strangers.

Re:I'm Not Sure It's Quite True (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#44502635)

"'Reputed' implies that there's not much scientific evidence of this at all, with regard to either family or strangers."

No it doesn't. Look it up. "Reputed" means they have that reputation. There is no implication of falsity and no relation whatever to the presence or absence of evidence.

Re:I'm Not Sure It's Quite True (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44506197)

There is no implication of falsity and no relation whatever to the presence or absence of evidence.

And my claim that there is "not much scientific evidence of this" does not mean there's no evidence either way, either, and I haven't inferred that it's false.

The scientific dolphin study is a definite, objective, presence of evidence, which I'd say makes it more worthy of attention than a reputation.

Dammit! (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#44500785)

That means, that I'll have to return those herrings after all.

Parrots (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44500847)

In my experience, parrots never forget people they associate with (that's easiest to show when they have a certain call they make for a given person; I've known parrots to make such calls after years of separation).

Alex the parrot lived 31 years. I bet he never forgot a grad student, and that data showing that are buried in Pepperberg's work.

Re:Parrots (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44501137)

In my experience,

So not a scientific experiment performed by professional scientists under carefully controlled conditions, then...

I've known parrots to make such calls after years of separation.

How many years?

Alex the parrot lived 31 years. I bet he never forgot a grad student, and that data showing that are buried in Pepperberg's work.

I bet he did forget. I can't be bothered to go and check either, though.

Re:Parrots (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44504557)

In my experience,

So not a scientific experiment performed by professional scientists under carefully controlled conditions, then...

The plural of anecdotes is astronomy, so this doesn't bother me. I know how to make observations.

I've known parrots to make such calls after years of separation.

How many years?

Roughly four years without question, but I wasn't trying to set any records. The interesting thing was

- the parrot had a distinctive call for a particular person (they liked to goof on each other)
- the person had been a border, left, and came back to say hello. He didn't leave on the best of terms, and was not given to dropping by, but we had a visitor he
wanted to see.
- We had all forgotten about the call, until the parrot reminded us, so I don't see any way we could have cued it.

One of my parrots has been angry at my son for over three years now, but they do see each other every few months.

Alex the parrot lived 31 years. I bet he never forgot a grad student, and that data showing that are buried in Pepperberg's work.

I bet he did forget. I can't be bothered to go and check either, though.

Well, Dr. Pepperberg should know. I understand the principle here (Q. Which mission was the first to discover water on Mars? A. Basically, all of them!*), you need some sort of "first" to get into the press, which makes me sympathetic if cynical about the process. My guess is the actual paper claims no such record, and some eager P.R. person put in the claim.

* In July I heard a NASA honcho state that they were going to have to stop letting new missions claim the discovery of water on Mars, as it had been done to death.

An elephant never forgets (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about a year ago | (#44501005)

I think it's been demonstrated that elephants have long memories. I recall a story about two elephants greeting each other like old friends when they hadn't seen each other for over 20 years.

Re:An elephant never forgets (1)

azav (469988) | about a year ago | (#44502015)

Read Modoc then. I'm sure you'll love it.

Dolphin Memories Span far more than 20 Years! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44501233)

I remember Flipper, and that was on in the 60s!

Sugar (5, Interesting)

azav (469988) | about a year ago | (#44501263)

When a wee pup in yon '70s of yore, my family would sometimes go down to Key West where we would stay at a hotel with a mini golf course and an enclosed lagoon with a trained dolphin.

As a whelp, (yes, that's the correct spelling) I would do nothing else but stand by the dolphin pool watching, or play mini golf.

After I had become a regular by the edge of the pool, every so often Sugar the dolphin would come up to me and click and wave a little and bob her head back, as if she was saying, "come on in!" I was simply entranced to be there and that a dolphin was paying attention to me.

The next year after we showed up and I took my place on the edge of the lagoon, it only took 1/2 an hour before Sugar stopped, turned around in the water, swam over to me and greeted me as if she actually remembered me from the year before. Honestly, I'd expected her to have remembered "me" sooner, but I was happy none the less that a dolphin seemed to know and remember me.

Sadly, we weren't able to go back the next summer, but the year after that we did. Eager to see if my friend Sugar remembered me, I stood by the pool for about an hour or two, knowing that she would come over when she realized it was me.

No dice.

No reaction at all.

I was a sad panda. An ignored sad panda.

This totally was a downer for me, and I realized that I might be wrong, that dolphins don't remember and aren't able to make out specific people. This was still on my mind the next morning when my parents and I walked off to breakfast and neared Sugar's lagoon.

Before I could even get close to the pool, I could see Sugar turn towards me, zip over to the side of the pool near me clicking and bobbing her head, making quite a fuss, telling me "I can't believe that was you yesterday and I didn't even remember you! Welcome back! It's great to see you again little monster! Come on in!"

One hell of a great creature she was.

How would they remember us? (2)

phorm (591458) | about a year ago | (#44502963)

I'm guessing that doesn't wouldn't have much (if any) a sense of smell. Hearing somebody outside of water might be a bit harder too. Looks, especially when one is young, could change a lot.

Sounds like, given what she had to work with, this dolphin had a better memory than I do :-)

Elephants can remember 20 years (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44501595)

I clearly recall seeing a documentary about an elephant taken to the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary [elephants.com] . She instantly recognized another elephant that she had not seen in over twenty years. The keepers had planned to keep her in an isolation cage for a few days, but they had to let her out early because she was damaging the cage in an effort to be reunited. She did not have the same reaction to elephants that she had never previously contacted. I wish I could find a link. Hold on, here it is [elephants.com] .

should have been a dolphin researcher (1)

KernelMuncher (989766) | about a year ago | (#44501631)

What a great life - get grants to hang out in Bermuda every year. Soak up some sun, play with dolphins. Publish a scientific paper every now and then.

That's loads better than my job. : (

Try 150 years (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#44501921)

Arctic bowhead whales live 150-200 years. One of the reason they're so shy around humans is that THEY REMEMBER BEING WHALED. Obviously these are the ones who got away, but over a century later these things are still swimming around.

Re:Try 150 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44502407)

How would they remember being killed?

Re:Try 150 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44502603)

Arctic bowhead whales live 150-200 years. One of the reason they're so shy around humans is that THEY REMEMBER BEING WHALED. Obviously these are the ones who got away, but over a century later these things are still swimming around.

I think we all remember the first time we whaled.

Nim Chimpsky? (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#44502247)

There was a documentary a couple years ago about the 1970s seminal work done with Nim when he was just chimpling. Nim was discarded when (1) he became an unruly adolescent and (2) the principal investigator decided chimps werent really using language (contaversial). After several intermediate owners they tracked down Nim, now a gray-haired middle age. And seemed to recognize his human friends from the 1970s.

How is this a breaking discovery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44503611)

Is it not already inherent that ALL forms of life communicate and form memories? Seems that every year we get more "scientists/biologists" discover that animals can do this or that!
How is it that we come to self glorify ourselves while ignoring the obvious that animals can do everything socially that we can, yet with their own form of language?
DERP

Re:How is this a breaking discovery? (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about a year ago | (#44506461)

Is it not already inherent that ALL forms of life communicate and form memories?

Bacteria form memories?

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