Mammalogy.doc - Evidence of teaching in the Atlantic spotted dolphin(Stenella frontalis Sarah Taylor FW 317 Mammalogy INTRODUCTION The Atlantic spotted

Mammalogy.doc - Evidence of teaching in the Atlantic...

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Evidence of teaching in the Atlantic spotted dolphin ( Stenella frontalis ) Sarah Taylor FW 317: Mammalogy I NTRODUCTION The Atlantic spotted dolphin ( Stenella frontalis ) is a relatively small marine mammal belonging to the Order Cetacea, Suborder Odontoceti, Family Delphinidae, and Subfamily Delphininae. It is endemic to the temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Mature adults have dark skin with numerous white spots, a characteristic that is reflected in their common name. Calves are born without spots but become mottled as they age (Perrin 2002). The Atlantic spotted dolphin has a fusiform body shape which allows it to swim efficiently through water. It has simple, homodont teeth that are monophyodont. It has an asymmetrical skull with a long, narrow rostrum (Feldhamer et al. 2007). Like many other cetaceans, the Atlantic spotted dolphin is gregarious. Individuals form associations with conspecifics based on age, sex, and reproductive status. The strongest bond exhibited by this species is between a mother and her calf (Herzing and Brunnick 1997). Calves spend the first several years of their lives in close proximity to their mothers. Mothers nurse their calves for an average of three years, but lactation can last up to five years (Herzing 1997). Maintaining close contact with their mothers provides calves with access to nourishment in the form of thick, calorie-dense milk (Perrin 2002). The high degree of parental care in this species gives calves protection from predators. It also allows sufficient time for calves to learn communication and foraging behaviors from their mothers (Bender et al. 2009). Communication between Atlantic spotted dolphins is elaborate and consists of non-vocal and vocal signals. Non-vocal behaviors include touching, rubbing, leaping, posturing, tail
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slapping, and jaw clapping (Paulos et al. 2008). Vocalizations include whistles, squawks, screams, barks, and buzzes (Herzing 1996). These sounds are produced by echolocation, or high frequency pulses. Echolocation sounds are created in nasal sacs located in a dolphin’s forehead.
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