At some stage in life, be it childhood or adulthood, dolphins are everyones favourite animal! These loveable creatures are well represented in stories, children’s ‘favourite animal’ lists and even in cartoons and movies!
But how much do we really know about dolphins?? Let’s take a look at this list and find out!

1. How many different species of dolphins are there??

That exact answer is hard to find! You’ll commonly find information saying there are around 38 species of oceanic dolphins and 5 species of river dolphins. The most recent species of dolphin that was discovered was in 2011. It seems the more that is studied about dolphins, the more species that show up! Out of that list of 43 , only 1 is considered functionally extinct (the Chinese River Dolphin – Baiji).

2. Do we know how long dolphins have been around for??

Not exactly.. BUT there are LOTS of accounts of dolphins being recorded as part of history. For example, there are dolphins carved in the desert city of Petra in Jordan. Petra was established as early as 312 BC, so with that as a guide, it seems like they’ve been known about by humans for a really long time! In addition to that, there are fossils that date back 50 million years ago, which have links to the pre-historic category that the pre-evolutionary dolphin falls under.

3. Just how good is a dolphin’s sonar??

It’s the best! A dolphin sonar is the better than any other in nature or manmade. It’s often argued that bats have a superior sonar, but the research online seems to suggest that it’s only due to over 3 times as many scientists and research projects being conducted on bat sonar, as opposed to dolphin sonar. So it seems that dolphin sonar is far superior to bats! Their incredible ability is built into their DNA and allows them to continue improving this skill as they continue evolving. It’s so good, in fact, that it can determine the difference between a golf ball and a tennis ball being dropped in the ocean.

4. Are Killer Whales (Orcas) dolphins??

Yes, they are! Despite being called ‘whales’, they are actually part of the dolphin family, Delphinidae. They’re the only one in their family group and the biggest species overall! They are closely related to other dolphin species from Australia and China.

5. Are dolphins fish?

No! Dolphins are mammals, even though sometimes they mistakenly get referred to as fish! They are mammals because they are warm blooded and they breathe air using lungs.

6. How exactly are dolphins like cows??

Dolphins are like cows due to the names that male dolphins, female dolphins and baby/young dolphins get given. Male dolphins are called “bulls”, female dolphins are called “cows” and baby/young dolphins are called “calves”. The name for a collective group of dolphins, however, is unlike any farm yard animal and more closely related to fish – a large group of dolphins is described as a “pod” or “school”.

7. Do dolphins have over 100 teeth??

Yes, they do! They have a bit over 100 teeth and they aren’t used for eating at all. They actually don’t have the jaw muscles (or facial muscles) to chew anything! Their teeth are used for 3 separate and distinct purposes. The first way the dolphins use their teeth is to grip objects whether that be defensively or to be playful or to re-position their food to go down their throat the right way. The other way they use their teeth is to ‘rake’ others, usually to exert dominance. The raking occurs when a dominant male is looking to keep another male in the pod in line but saying, “behave yourself” or “don’t do that, etc, by raking him anywhere between above the eye all the way down the body. The final way a dolphins teeth are used is as an additional ‘antenna’ to their sonar system. Their teeth can receive the incoming clicks and make it easier for them to process where it’s coming from.

8. How do dolphins breathe underwater?

They don’t! As they breathe using lungs, they need to come to the surface between 2 – 3 times per minute, to expose their breathing hole (that hole at the top of their head). They can’t breathe through their mouths, which is lucky, otherwise every time they go to eat, they would fill their lungs with water! They can only breathe through their breathing hole, by coming to the surface. It first expels the water sitting at the top of the hole and then it takes a breath!

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