Self-Recognition and Creative Thinking: The Intelligent Dolphin
Dolphins are widely regarded as one of the most intelligent creatures on Earth. Although they can't stand up and walk on dry land (like in the Family Guy episode Be Careful What You Fish For), they have shown signs of genuine intelligence. The question is: Just how intelligent are they? Many scientists have studied the cognitive processes of dolphins, and although none of them have been blessed with the voice of Ricky Gervais, the results of scientific experimentation is quite revealing.
Family Guy Episode Link: http://www.hulu.com/watch/331326
One of the main arguments about the intelligence of dolphins can be seen in water shows and at places like SeaWorld, where many scientists believe that the dolphins' perceived intelligence is mere conditioning and mimicry, in which the dolphins respond to certain stimuli. This observed Pavlovian conditioning is not a very popular mindset, as many people consider the dolphin the kindest and most intelligent creature in the sea. However, when you consider South Africa's Sardine Run, and when you observe the dolphin's ability to organize and utilize teamwork, it is a lot easier to make a case for the creature's intelligence.
A strong case for dolphin intelligence is their ability to understand their own reflection. Many studies have shown that dolphins are capable of self-recognition, or the ability to recognize one's self in a mirror. With a fairly large brain with respect to their body, dolphins have the capacity for higher thought. Scientists believe that dolphins can understand and recognize their reflection just as early as if not earlier than humans can. They share this ability with only a select few animals on earth, such as elephants. When a mark is placed on a dolphin, they can recognize that the mark is on their head and they can recognize that it is not supposed to be there.
Dolphin Self-Recognition Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrOtj3CAHgU
There are many cases for the intelligence of the incredible creatures, and they continue to surprise us as days go by. This goes without mentioning a dolphin's ability to create using it's own input, its ability to form connections with other dolphins, or its ability to process emotion. One of the major breakthroughs that is being pushed in the study of dolphins is communication - breaking down speech patterns and whatnot and translating them into human speech, or at least something that humans can comprehend. It might not be too far-fetched to imagine humans and dolphins speaking to one another, but that is a story for another time...