New study shows dolphins can learn to use tools

The scientists speculated that this behavior happens mostly when a shortage of food occurs.

Dolphins [Illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Dolphins [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Dolphins have been shown to learn tool use from their peers to better obtain food according to new research, Science Alert reported.
Marine biologists have observed several dolphins carrying an empty marine gastropod shells in which they capture fish to eat in a process called shelling.
According to the scientists who conducted the research, this shows that dolphins and great apes are more similar than previously assumed. This also means that dolphins, who have been known to gain new information from their mothers, can also learn new information from their peers. This is something previous studies have hinted at, but only now has been confirmed.
Data was collected between 2007-2018, during which 1,000 individual dolphins were observed in 5,300 different encounters. During this time, 19 dolphins exhibited the ability to use tools.
By using genetic, behavioral and environmental data of the 19 dolphins who have exhibited said behavior, the scientists managed to conclud that the information was transmitted between peers, rather than passed down from the dolphins' parents.
The scientists also speculated that this behavior happens mostly when a shortage of food occurs, as well as a necessary increase of shells.
Dolphins have been observed using tools previously, as they slipped sea sponges over their beaks as they were looking for food, in order to be able to search deeper areas than they previously could.