Dolphins Teaching One Another Tricks

Jill Harness

The so-called "tail walk" commonly seen in dolphin shows is something the animals aren't known to do in nature. It makes sense after all -- what good would it do the animals to practice this strange behavior in the wild, where it will only scare food away?

Recently though, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society researcher Dr. Mike Bossley has observed wild dolphins displaying the behavior after coming in contact with one dolphin that spent a short period of time in a visitor attraction. The dolphins aren't just doing it here and there, either. Bossley says they have been tail walking multiple times a day.

Bossley still doesn't know why the dolphins would tail walk so often, but he does have a good theory. "As far as we are aware, tail walking has no practical function and is performed just for fun – akin to human dancing or gymnastics. As such, it represents an internationally important example of the behavioral similarities between humans and dolphins."

[Image courtesy of Etrusia UK's Flickr stream.]