Dolphin Brain and the Struggle for Survival

Dolphin Brain and The Struggle for Survival

Dolphin is widely renowned as one of the most intelligent creatures on earth, but are they really intelligent, at all?


海豚的大脑就其体积来讲, 大超过其他哺乳动物,甚至人类的大脑。海豚大脑的脑沟和脑回的数量多得惊人,这是科学家们大为吃惊。专家们也宣布,海豚存在着与人类相似的语言。于是,关于海豚智商很高的说法几乎变成了绝对真理。


然而,海豚特别明显地倾向于动作的自动化。与陆地哺乳动物不同,海豚在外部环境和生活条件发生突然的变化时,不会去「思考」和寻找新的解决办法 。这似乎有点儿自相矛盾。研究人员做过这样一个实验, 步骤是「教海豚一些动作,然后要它移动水中的杠杆和其他物体,打开各种小门,连续做八个动作,走出一条道路。」他们观测到海豚很快就找到解决办法。在第一次实验结束时,它们动作完成得十分准确 ,毫不犹豫,没有半点错误,也不感到疲倦。


但在找到正确的方法以后,它们似乎马上忘了刚才的一切,立即重复原有的动作。即使条件发生变化,它们也不作丝毫改变 。由此可见,海豚学习动作的敏捷速度固然超过猴子,而适应新情况的机动能力实在很差。它们探索的积极性,只表现在第一次尝试之中。


海豚具有高度的分析和综合能力,在加工和总结信息的速度方面甚至超过人。例如,它们学习十个动作的速度同学习一个动作的速度几乎一样快 。这是因为海豚的大脑皮层发达。可是,选择能力差,不太灵活的记忆结构和缺乏探索的积极性,这一切都说明,海豚高度神经活动的形式是有一些特殊的地方。


原因在于海豚的大脑结构。海豚大脑的新皮层数量很大,而旧皮层以及皮层下结构却很小。也就是说,它能高速学会一些动作,但却不能储存这些动作。鹿的动作如果出现这种大脑结构,也会像海豚那样聪明。但是对陆地动物来说,这是不正常现象。


显然,在进化的某个阶段,哺乳动物曾经带着这种大脑结构尝到了生存斗争中的困难,不得不寻求变革。生存的途径只能是寻找一种生态环境,使这些缺点变成优点,或者至少不妨碍生存。现代海豚之所以仍处于这种极端状态,是它们的祖先成功地解决了这个问题 。因为上述「缺点」,反而帮助它们适应水中环境,并且顺利地度过了几百万年。


English translation:

The brain of a dolphin is much larger than other mammals and even human brains in terms of its size. The number of sulci and cerebral gyrus of the dolphin brain is staggering, which is amazed by scientists. Experts also announced that dolphins have a language similar to humans. As a result, the statement about the high IQ of dolphins has almost become absolute truth.

However, dolphins are particularly clearly inclined to automate the movement. Unlike terrestrial mammals, dolphins do not “think” and find new solutions when there is a sudden change in the external environment and living conditions. This seems a bit contradictory. The researchers did an experiment in which the steps were to "teach the dolphin some movements, then ask him to move the levers and other objects in the water, open the various small doors, do eight moves in a row, and walk out of a road." They observed that the dolphins soon found a solution. At the end of the first experiment, they completed the movement very accurately, without hesitation, without any mistakes, nor feeling tired.

But after finding the right way, they seem to have forgotten everything just now and repeat the original action immediately. Even if conditions change, they don't make any changes. It can be seen that the agile speed of dolphin learning movements exceeds that of monkeys, but their mobility ability to adapt to new situations is really poor. Their enthusiasm for exploration is only reflected in the first attempt.

Dolphins have a high degree of analysis and comprehensive ability, and even exceed the speed of processing and summarizing information. For example, the time they need to learn ten moves are almost the same with the time needed to learn one move. This is because the cerebral cortex of the dolphins is developed. However, the poor selection ability, the less flexible memory structure and the lack of enthusiasm for exploration all indicate that there are some special areas in the highly neurotic activity in dolphins.

The reason is the brain structure of the dolphins. The number of new cortex in the dolphin brain is large, while the old cortex and subcortical structures are small. In other words, he can learn some movements at high speed, but he can't store these actions. If this brain structure appears in deer's movements, they will also be as smart as dolphins. But for land animals, this is not a normal phenomenon.

Obviously, at some stage of evolution, mammals have used this brain structure to taste the difficulties in the struggle for survival and have to seek change. The only way to survive is to find an ecological environment that turns these shortcomings into advantages, or at least does not hinder survival. The reason why modern dolphins are still in this extreme state is that their ancestors successfully solved this problem. Because of the above "disadvantages", they helped them adapt to the underwater environment, successfully passed through millions of years.


Special notes:

  • 原有 - yuán yǒu - existing
  • 生存鬥爭 - shēngcún dòuzhēng - struggle for survival
  • 妨礙 - fáng ài - hinder, obstruct

The photo is taken from here.   

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