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Dolphin Days #4

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Courtesy of USA Today, we’re continuing the list of surprising similarities between humans and dolphins.  Did you know:

12. We are self-aware.

Researchers discovered that dolphins become self-aware at an earlier age than humans and chimpanzees. Investigators studied two young dolphins at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and watched how the mammals interacted with their images in a mirror. One dolphin looking at its image showed behavior that indicated it recognized itself at 7 months old, according to a study from Hunter College of the City University of New York. Humans first show self-directed behavior at a mirror between 12 and 15 months of age and chimps at a later age.

13. Old age is relative.               

A dolphin’s life span varies according to its environment and species. Although some bottlenose dolphins can reach 40 years of age, their average age is between 15 and 16 years. Forty is an old age for a dolphin — one making it to 40 is comparable to a human living to be 100. According to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, the oldest dolphin aged scientifically in the wild was 48 years old. The dolphin life expectancy in captivity appears similar, as the oldest dolphin in captivity was over 50.

14. Health risks abound. 

The ocean, like dry land, can be a hazardous place to live. Although humans and dolphins eat similar seafood, dolphins encounter more health risks because of tainted water supplies and toxic algae. When dolphins sleep, their bodies show signs of insulin resistance associated with type 2 diabetes. After they wake up, they become normal again and show no signs of insulin resistance. Scientists are studying this phenomenon hoping to find treatments for humans with this disease. However, even though dolphins turn insulin resistance off, they can still experience health problems similar to diabetes.

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