[MARMAM] new publication on dolphin social cognition

Adam A. Pack pack at hawaii.edu
Mon Feb 19 21:13:29 PST 2007

Dear colleagues:
We are pleased to inform you of the publication of the following 
article on dolphin social cognition by The Dolphin Institute.  If you 
would like a pdf copy, please email pack at hawaii.edu.  We hope you are 
having a great spring.   We are currently conducting our annual 
surveys of North Pacific humpback whales in Maui waters.

Pack, A. A., & Herman, L. M. (2006).  Dolphin social cognition and 
joint attention:  Our current understanding.  Aquatic Mammals, 32, 

Recent intense interest in social cognition in dolphins reflects 
findings that wild dolphins live in complex societies that rely on 
individual recognition, a protracted period of development, coalition 
formation, and cooperative, as well as competitive, social behaviors. 
Laboratory studies have revealed a host of cognitive skills that can 
support such complex behaviors- for example, broad imitative 
abilities, abilities to understand another's indicative cues, and 
spontaneous use of pointing to communicate with human companions. 
Joint attention is recognized as a key element of social cognition 
that extends from simply following another's gaze to using pointing 
or gazing cues of another to select objects or locations.  Studies of 
bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) have revealed that they 
understand (1) human-given direct and cross-body points; (2) 
human-given dynamic and static pointing and gazing cues within 
object-choice tasks; (2) the geometry of pointing cues; (4) the 
referential character of pointing and gazing cues; (5) sequences of 
direct and/or cross-body points that were instructions to transport 
one object to another; (6) how to produce pointing cues and the 
importance of audience attention; and (7) possibly the belief state 
of another that is engaged in a joint attention task.  The evidence 
suggests that joint attention skills in dolphins are robust and to 
some degree symmetric cross comprehension and production. 
Comparative analyses indicate that in some areas of joint attention, 
abilities of dolphins exceed the demonstrated skills of apes. 
Possibly, a dolphin's capacity for joint attention may be related to 
the adaptive benefits of being able to attend tot the focus of 
another dolphin's echolocation beam in conjunction with a 
sophisticated social structure dependent on attention to others.

Adam A. Pack, Ph.D.
The Dolphin Institute
P.O. Box 700694
Kapolei, HI  96709
pack at hawaii.edu
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