Welcome to the All Things Wild Podcast, where we talk about wildlife across our beautiful planet through conversations with experts and nature lovers alike! Today we are joined by one of the world’s leading authorities on the brains of dolphins and whales, Dr. Lori Marino. Lori is the founder and president of The Whale Sanctuary Project, has a long history in the field of neuroscience, and was featured in the landmark film, Blackfish. She joins us on the show to talk about intelligence in dolphins and whales, explaining the limitations of our understanding and how the field of research in this area has progressed over the last few decades. We also talk about Lori’s own journey and research, and some of the amazing studies she has been a part of. We spend some time thinking about the complexity of intelligence, and how outdated and oversimplified perspectives of humans as the sole most intelligent life form on earth have been so clearly disproved. The conversation also covers the topics of captivity, emotional intelligence, and what we can and cannot learn from brain size and the encephalization quotient. Dr. Lori shares a wealth of insight and knowledge and her considered and open-minded approach is truly inspiring, join us to hear it all!
Key Points From This Episode:
- How Dr. Lori became interested in studying the brains of cetaceans.
- Dr. Lori’s early work with bottle-nosed dolphins in captivity and the study on mirror recognition.
- Studies on metacognition in dolphins and how this relates to self-awareness.
- Considering the different scientific definitions of intelligence and Lori’s personal perspective.
- Dolphin interpretations of human intelligence!
- The impact of captivity on displays of skills and intelligence.
- Syntax and understanding of sentences in dolphins, and studies in this area.
- The massive similarities that exist in nature and the lack of actual divides between many species.
- Developments in brain size and how this occurs in the evolutionary process.
- The activities that utilize the more impressive parts of the dolphin mind.
- Unpacking the encephalization quotient and what it illuminates.
- The primary areas to look at in the brain when studying intelligence levels.
- Comparing the neocortex in dolphins and whales with that in primates.
- Cultural conservatism in orcas and the studies on their restricted diet.
- Weighing the emotional landscape of dolphins and the clear differences from human EQ.
- Some information on The Whale Sanctuary Project and what Dr. Lori and her team are aiming for.
“They process information pretty quickly and they are pretty impatient, and you are always trying to catch up with them.” — @Whale_Sanctuary [0:06:01]
“It really speaks to how bright they are because even under the circumstances of living in a concrete tank that is really sparse and limiting, they are still able to be engaged in very complex tasks.” — @Whale_Sanctuary [0:15:21]
“It is pretty amazing that they are able to work with a human-based system, a human-based language, and they are able to do that successfully.” — @Whale_Sanctuary [0:17:51]
“There is no bright line in nature that divides humans and non-humans.” — @Whale_Sanctuary [0:19:49]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode: