For thousands of years, people have been fascinated by dolphins. In ancient times, seafarers developed a relationship with these aquatic creatures. Dolphins were playful, intelligent, and social. They’re mammals and they bear their children alive; they seemed to be a lot like us.
The ancients may have wondered why humans and dolphins had certain similarities, but they didn’t have the knowledge to support their conjecture. However, modern science has provided many answers. 24/7 Tempo has reviewed sources such as smithsonianmag.com to compile a list of the surprising similarities between humans and dolphins.
Science has helped explain why dolphins are playful (there is a purpose to much of that activity), their intelligence (bigger brains), and their social skills (sophisticated community).
But other discoveries have been surprising. Veterinarians at Texas A&M University have learned that we are closer to dolphins genetically than we thought. Researchers in Ireland found that dolphins speak in different dialects. The bone structure in our ams is similar to the flippers on our marine friends. We both breathe through nostrils, though the dolphin nostril is on top of its head. Dolphins may not have an opposable thumb, but they are facile enough to use sea sponges to protect their snout while searching for food. Some scientists even think there are gay dolphins.
We may share certain characteristics, but humans have not been the best of friends to dolphins. Their numbers have been reduced because of urbanization, pollution, widespread use of gillnets by fishermen and, of course, human-caused climate change. Some species are among the 27,000 species are endangered right now — and these are other animals humans are driving to extinction.
We’ve already lost one dolphin species in recent years, the baiji or Yangtze River dolphin, which is believed to be the first dolphin species that humans have made extinct.
Some people have answered the clarion call to protect our oceans and the marine life that inhabits them. Among them is Richard O’Barry, a trainer for dolphins for the beloved 1960s TV-series “Flipper.” He leads the Dolphin Project that opposes dolphin exploitation and slaughter. And he is not the only one — these are 30 heroes fighting to save our oceans.