Name: Erin Ward
What character traits make a killer whale a dolphin? Who thought of the
name dolphin? How can you tell female and male dolphins apart?
In what ways have dolphins helped people?
What can we do in the future with dolphins and their language?
Can anyone tell me how to contact a dolphins research
center in Florida?
Whew! Quite a list of questions!!
1. Killer whales are in the family DELPHINIDAE, (order Odontoceti --
or "toothed whales"), or the "Dolphins", and they are classified like
this because of many body features:
-many teeth , in BOTH jaw up to 260!
-skull bones characteristic of group
-rostrum as long or longer than cranial portion of jaw
-2 anterior vertebrae are fused together
-ribs are characteristic of group
-presence of tail at junction of flukes
-anterior limbs (or flippers) are sickle-shaped
2. I don't know who named "dolphins", but its probably a derivative
of the family name "DELPHINIDAE".
3. Males and females can be told apart by examination of the slits
they have on their bellies. In females, the genital and anal
slits are much closer together than in males, and small
mammary slits are usually visible as well on either side of
the genital slit.
4. There are many stories of dolphins helping people stay
afloat when exhausted and stranded at sea from plane or boat
disasters, and one explanation for this behavior can be
observed when dolphins give birth,
one of the first
things they do is to gently nudge their babies to the
surface to breathe. If the baby is sick or cant swim on its
own, the adult does this as well. This may be an "instinct"
for dolphins, to aid their young, or, it may just be another
sign of intelligence.
5. For some information on dolphin communication and their language,
please refer to the Biology Archive of Questions and answers in
"Ask A Scientist".
6. Dolphin Research Center (in Florida):
P.O. Box Dolphin
MM 59 Grassy Key
Marathon Shores, FL 33052
Phone # 305-289-0002
Thanks for all the great questions on dolphins!!
Tom F Ihde
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Update: June 2012