So, how intelligent are dolphins?
I’ve taken this bit from understanddolphins.tripod.com.
An appropriate IQ test to measure dolphin intelligence does not exist. It is impossible to fully assess this animal’s level of intelligence in this manner. But another way which has been suggested to measure intelligence is by determining the measure of relative brain size defined as the ratio between actual brain mass and predicted brain mass for an animal of a given size. This is called the “encephalization quotient”, or EQ. This measurement suggests the higher the number, the greater the intelligence. The human EQ is 7.0. The EQ for great apes, elephants, chimpanzees and whales is about 1.8-2.3, meaning they have smaller brains for their body size than do humans. The dolphin’s EQ is 4.2, the closest EQ ratio to the human than any other animal.
Additionally, the degree to which the cerebral cortex is folded appears to be a measure of intelligence. The more folded the cortex, the more room within the brain to house additional neurons (brain cells) with which to perform processing of information. Recently published information regarding the increased folding of Albert Einstein’s cerebral cortex compared to that of other humans supports this theory. The only animal to have a more folded cortex than man is the dolphin. This picture is of the human brain. Somescientists believe the major reason for such a large brain is to process information from the dolphin’s complex echolocation, or biosonar, system. But there is no evidence to support this belief. The theory most commonly accepted is that this larger brain evolved to support more complex cognitive abilities. They can remember events and learn concepts, changing their behavior as a result of previous experience. They can communicate with each other during cooperative behaviors, manage relationships in their pods and raise their young. They can understand not only symbolic (sign) language words but can interpret the syntax (word) order of language. This understanding of syntax is highly indicative of intelligence. Signature whistles produced by dolphins (see the “vocalization” chapter of this website) serve to offer some evidence that dolphins have a self-awareness, or the capacity to have a concept of “self” and to know that one exists as an individual being. Self-awareness exists in the brain’s pre-frontal cortex. Other than in dolphins, self-awareness appears to exist only in large brained primates and man.
Certainly, this makes me think… From my own experience with dolphins it would seem that they do have a very clear awareness of self and a deep presence in consciousness, in my experience far more than in humans. Science tell us that dolphins are intelligent beings. While this is fascinating to me and seems to be deeply ingrained in my own being, it poses many thoughts and excites me about the possibility of deeply connecting and working with dolphins.