Label: Dolphins

May 31, 2009

Teacher Guide: Let’s talk about dolphins!

  1. Dolphins are the "wonder of the animal kingdom." Take a tour of a dolphin’s body to find out what makes them so wonderful.

    a. Teeth: A dolphin’s teeth are not for chewing, but how do they help in food gathering? Some scientists think that the teeth are spaced in a way to help dolphins analyze sound waves.

    b. The melon: The melon is used in echolocation to focus sound waves the dolphin gives off.

      c. Dorsal fin: As distinctive as a person’s face. Used by scientists to identify individual dolphins.

    d.  Eyes: Special glands to protect their eyes from ocean water.

      e. Skin: Many nerve endings in skin helps explain why tame dolphins like to be stroked.

    f. Blowhole: Like a person’s nostril.  Blowhole allows a dolphin to breathe while swimming at top speed.

  2. What makes Dolphins so smart?

    a. Brains: large size, second only to human in ratio of brain size to body size.

    b.  Communication: Dolphins communicate by sounds. Listen to a recording of a "conversation" to hear the squeaks and whistles.

      c. Dolphins make choices and learn quickly.

  3.  What are some amazing dolphin facts? What other facts do you know?

          a. Using sonar, a dolphin can find a single marble dropped into the end of a 70 foot pool.

    b. A mother dolphin will stay with a calf for two to three years.

      c. The killer whale (Orca) is really the largest dolphin, not a whale.

    d. Dolphins can mimic a human whistle.

      e. Baby dolphins "babble" like human children.

      f. Dolphins were once land animals and evolved into sea animals.  Their front legs became fins for steering although they still have a land mammal’s finger-like bones.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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