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Soundings Archive

Is Flipper Really Dumb?
Dolphins have long been considered extremely intelligent. This reputation has in part been based on the size of their brains and on their vocalizations. A South African scientist claims Flipper's reputation is undeserved in an article published in the May 2006 issue of the Cambridge Philosophical Society's Biological Reviews.

The article is by Dr. Paul Manger, a biologist at Johannesburg's University of the Wiwatersrand. Dr. Manger's article claims that dolphin's large brains are attributable to unusually high number of glial cells, which provide insulation for brain functioning and do not promote intelligence.

Dr. Manger also claims that dolphins have only seven basic sounds, and that dolphin vocalizations are simple and repeated species-specific calls.

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