Segments in this Video

Social Living (02:05)


Dolphins are known for their intelligence. All of the most clever animal species live in groups.

Dolphins in the Wild (02:06)

See footage of how these mammals work as a team to hunt fish. The size of their brains indicates that their ability to synchronize is not due to instinct.

Shift in Relative Brain Size (02:52)

Lori Marino is trying to estimate the brain size of ancient whales by examining skulls. Bodies and teeth shrank at the same time brains got bigger.

Shift to Social Living (02:01)

The shift in dolphin brain size coincided with the mammals living in groups. Pods can come together and form a mega pod of hundreds or thousands.

Fission Fusion Society (03:03)

Researchers tracking wild spotted dolphins have observed many types of relationships. Mothers and calves follow predictable patterns. Dolphins of the same sex form friendships.

Social Complexity and Bigger Brains (02:28)

Dolphins form relationships that change just like humans. They make a variety of sounds to communicate.

Strange Animal Experiment (02:20)

Lilly set out to teach a dolphin English. Margaret Howe lived with the mammal for two months in a house. It was an unethical failure.

Listening to Wild Dolphins (02:48)

Researchers use recorders in hopes of understanding dolphin language. There are no visual cues because sound is accomplished by vibrating tissue in nasal cavities.

Dolphin Sound Analysis (02:44)

Clicking is used for echolocation. Patterns are observed when a dolphin does a particular action. Hear brays, burst pulses, and signature whistles.

Amboseli National Park, Kenya (02:38)

Like dolphins, elephants use vocal calls to identify each other. Females stay with their families for their entire lives.

Elephant Contact Calls (01:45)

See how these mammals respond to recorded sounds. They react differently to unfamiliar voices.

Cooperation and Competition (01:51)

Insects are social animals with tiny brains. Ants work toward one goal; dolphins can work together or against each other.

Observation in Captivity (02:58)

A cognition expert believes secrets of the dolphin brain can only be unlocked in aquariums. She uses a one way mirror to determine if dolphins recognize themselves.

Extent of Awareness (02:33)

Dolphins, elephants, and chimpanzees can recognize themselves in a mirror; humans under 18 months old do not. Do any animals think about the thoughts of others?

Deception Experiment (03:10)

Chimpanzee groups have a ranking system. See how a low ranking chimp reacts when she is privy to information unknown by a dominant group member.

Fairness Test (02:52)

Manipulating others can be advantageous to social living, but there are disadvantages to deception. Capuchin monkeys will protest if they are not given the same treat as another.

Concern for Others (02:08)

Bonobos are highly social chimps. An experiment reveals that they will share food with strangers. Elephants will console others in distress.

Social Interest After Death (03:20)

Elephants have an intense response to skulls of others killed by poachers. They do not respond to other herbivore bones.

Inter-species Interaction (02:04)

Relationships are essential to the survival of social creatures. A group of divers is approached by a dolphin that needs help.

Parallels with People (02:25)

Humans are not the only social species. Evidence shows that evolution can promote cooperation as well as dominance.

Credits: Who's the Smartest? (01:13)

Credits: Who's the Smartest?

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Who's the Smartest?

Part of the Series : Inside Animal Minds
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



What makes an animal smart? What forces of evolution drive brains to become more complex? Many scientists believe the secret lies in our relationships. Throughout the animal kingdom, some of the cleverest creatures—including humans—seem to be those who live in complex social groups, like dolphins, elephants, and apes. Could the skills required to keep track of friend and foe make animals smarter? To find out, NOVA goes inside the social lives of some of the smartest animals on the planet. Off the coast of Florida, we see dolphins team up to catch fish by whipping up a wall of muddy water that drives the meal right into their companions' waiting mouths. It seems that the dolphins are working together to plan their hunt. But are they really? Biologists go on a quest to decipher the secrets of animal societies, from the seas of the Caribbean to the plains of Africa. Do dolphins and elephants have "language?" Do chimps have a sense of fairness? And are any animals besides ourselves capable of feeling empathy?

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL131256

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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