Dolphins Bearing Gifts

The way to a female's heart is the same in dolphins and humans

04-01-2008 // Hannah Schardt

WHEN A MALE Amazon river dolphin wants to win the heart of a female, he may offer her a lovely bouquet--of river weed. So say British and Brazilian researchers, who conclude in a new study that the dolphins carry clumps of plants, sticks and other objects as a sexual display, not merely as a form of play, as scientists previously believed. The evidence? Male aggressiveness was 40 times more likely in groups where at least one dolphin was carrying an object. Also, only adult males demonstrate the behavior. The river weed seems to do the trick; genetic analysis of tissue samples collected from the dolphins indicates the males that most often sport objects father the most offspring.

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