A little different, but stay with me here. According to CNN dolphins have been found using tools:
A group of dolphins living off the coast of Australia apparently teach their offspring to protect their snouts with sponges while foraging for food in the sea floor.
Researchers say it appears to be a cultural behavior passed on from mother to daughter, a first for animals of this type, although such learning has been seen in other species.
The dolphins, living in Shark Bay, Western Australia, use conically shaped whole sponges that they tear off the bottom, said Michael Kruetzen, lead author of a report on the dolphins in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
“Cultural evolution, including tool use, is not only found in humans and our closest relatives, the primates, but also in animals that are evolutionally quite distant from us. This convergent evolution is what is so fascinating,” said Kruetzen.
Mom always says “Protect your Snout.” Words to live by.
This story reminded me of what could be my favorite Sci-Fi book of all time: David Brin’s Startide Rising. Set in the far future, the premise is that with a mix of genetics and other tech humanity has “uplifted” chimps and dolphins to full blown speech, tool use and intelligence. Dolphins have learned how to speak, fly spaceships and fight wars. The plot of Startide Rising follows the first fully dolphin-crewed starship and all the trouble she gets in.
The Question is: If dolphins are already smart enough to use tools and it was possible to make them even smarter, should we? I’m talking some massive genetic tampering here. And intelligence is a mixed bag – sure you get poetry and medicine, but you also get high-tech ways to kill. Not to mention the stress.
So, what do you think? If we could, should we give this “gift” to our slick friends?