Dolphins have developed a number of human-like personality traits, despite having evolved in vastly different environments, the researchers found.
One study, published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, looked at 134 male and female bottlenose dolphins from eight facilities around the world, and the facility staff evaluated the personality of each dolphin. The results of the study found a convergence of certain personality traits, especially curiosity and sociability.
The study has helped researchers understand how certain human personality traits developed independently of immediate environments. These similarities were found despite the fact that dolphins evolved in a completely different environment than primates, and the last common ancestor lived around 95 million years ago.
Dr. Blake Morton, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull and lead author of the study, said this research was the first time dolphin personalities had been studied in this way.
Morton said: “Dolphins were a great animal for this type of study because, like primates, dolphins are intelligent and social. We reasoned that if factors such as intelligence and gregariousness contribute to personality, then dolphins should have similar personality traits to primates. “
He said: “Dolphins, like many primates, have brains considerably larger than their bodies require for basic bodily functions; This excess brain matter essentially enhances their ability to be intelligent, and intelligent species are often very curious. “
Morton said that the most widely accepted model of human personality is defined by five traits, which are replicated throughout the human personality regardless of environment. These traits can be summed up as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, kindness, and neuroticism. He added that while many studies have looked at the extent to which these traits are shared by primates, this study aimed to observe intelligent animals in a completely different environment.
“Scientists still don’t fully understand why our behavior boils down to those five traits, so one way to do that is to compare ourselves to other animals, what we share in common and why,” he said.
“Most of the research has been done on primates, so we decided to do something different and watch the dolphins. Nobody before had studied the personality of dolphins the way we have. “
Morton went on to say that although the dolphins’ personalities had been shown to be similar to those of humans, the study did not conclude that these personalities were identical.
“I don’t want people to misunderstand that and say that humans and dolphins have the same personality traits, they don’t. It’s just that some of them are similar, ”he added.
The study, Personality Structure in Bottlenose Dolphins, began in 2012. Countries in which the facilities are located include Mexico, France, the United States, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands.
The team of researchers also included Dr. Lauren Robinson of the Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine and Georgia State University, Dr. Alexander Weiss of the University of Edinburgh and Sabrina Brando of AnimalConcepts.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism