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Herzing D.L.,Wild Dolphin Project | Herzing D.L.,Florida Atlantic University
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2010

In the past SETI has focused on the reception and deciphering of radio signals from potential remote civilizations. It is conceivable that real-time contact and interaction with a social intelligence may occur in the future. A serious look at the development of relationship, and deciphering of communication signals within and between a non-terrestrial, non-primate sentient species is relevant. Since 1985 a resident community of free-ranging Atlantic spotted dolphins has been observed regularly in the Bahamas. Life history, relationships, regular interspecific interactions with bottlenose dolphins, and multi-modal underwater communication signals have been documented. Dolphins display social communication signals modified for water, their body types, and sensory systems. Like anthropologists, human researchers engage in benign observation in the water and interact with these dolphins to develop rapport and trust. Many individual dolphins have been known for over 20 years. Learning the culturally appropriate etiquette has been important in the relationship with this alien society. To engage humans in interaction the dolphins often initiate spontaneous displays, mimicry, imitation, and synchrony. These elements may be emergent/universal features of one intelligent species contacting another for the intention of initiating interaction. This should be a consideration for real-time contact and interaction for future SETI work. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Green M.L.,Florida Atlantic University | Green M.L.,Urbana University | Herzing D.L.,Wild Dolphin Project | Herzing D.L.,Florida Atlantic University | Baldwin J.D.,Florida Atlantic University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Similar to other small cetacean species, Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) have been the object of concentrated behavioral study. Although mating and courtship behaviors occur often and the social structure of the population is well-studied, the genetic mating system of the species is unknown. To assess the genetic mating system, we genotyped females and their progeny at ten microsatellite loci. Genotype analysis provided estimates of the minimum number of male sires necessary to account for the allelic diversity observed among the progeny. Using the estimates of male sires, we determined whether females mated with the same or different males during independent estrus events. Using GERUD2.0, a minimum of two males was necessary to account for the genetic variation seen among progeny arrays of all tested females. ML-RELATE assigned the most likely relationship between offspring pairs; half or full sibling. Relationship analysis supported the conservative male estimates of GERUD2.0 but in some cases, half or full sibling relationships between offspring could not be fully resolved. Integrating the results from GERUD2.0, ML-RELATE with previous observational and paternity data, we constructed two-, three-, and four-male pedigree models for each genotyped female. Because increased genetic diversity of offspring may explain multi-male mating, we assessed the internal genetic relatedness of each offspring's genotype to determine whether parent pairs of offspring were closely related. We found varying levels of internal relatedness ranging from unrelated to closely related (range -0.136-0.321). Because there are several hypothesized explanations for multi-male mating, we assessed our data to determine the most plausible explanation for multi-male mating in our study system. Our study indicated females may benefit from mating with multiple males by passing genes for long-term viability to their young. © 2015 Green et al. Source

Herzing D.L.,Wild Dolphin Project | Herzing D.L.,Florida Atlantic University
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2014

The search for signals out of noise is a problem not only with radio signals from the sky but in the study of animal communication. Dolphins use multiple modalities to communicate including body postures, touch, vision, and most elaborately sound. Like SETI radio signal searches, dolphin sound analysis includes the detection, recognition, analysis, and interpretation of signals. Dolphins use both passive listening and active production to communicate. Dolphins use three main types of acoustic signals: frequency modulated whistles (narrowband with harmonics), echolocation (broadband clicks) and burst pulsed sounds (packets of closely spaced broadband clicks). Dolphin sound analysis has focused on frequency-modulated whistles, yet the most commonly used signals are burst-pulsed sounds which, due to their graded and overlapping nature and bimodal inter-click interval (ICI) rates are hard to categorize. We will look at: 1) the mechanism of sound production and categories of sound types, 2) sound analysis techniques and information content, and 3) examples of lessons learned in the study of dolphin acoustics. The goal of this paper is to provide perspective on how animal communication studies might provide insight to both passive and active SETI in the larger context of searching for life signatures. © 2014 IAA. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Herzing D.L.,Wild Dolphin Project | Herzing D.L.,Florida Atlantic University
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2014

Intelligence has historically been studied by comparing nonhuman cognitive and language abilities with human abilities. Primate-like species, which show human-like anatomy and share evolutionary lineage, have been the most studied. However, when comparing animals of non-primate origins our abilities to profile the potential for intelligence remains inadequate. Historically our measures for nonhuman intelligence have included a variety of tools: (1) physical measurements - brain to body ratio, brain structure/convolution/neural density, presence of artifacts and physical tools, (2) observational and sensory measurements - sensory signals, complexity of signals, cross-modal abilities, social complexity, (3) data mining - information theory, signal/noise, pattern recognition, (4) experimentation - memory, cognition, language comprehension/use, theory of mind, (5) direct interfaces - one way and two way interfaces with primates, dolphins, birds and (6) accidental interactions - human/animal symbiosis, cross-species enculturation. Because humans tend to focus on "human-like" attributes and measures and scientists are often unwilling to consider other "types" of intelligence that may not be human equated, our abilities to profile "types" of intelligence that differ on a variety of scales is weak. Just as biologists stretch their definitions of life to look at extremophiles in unusual conditions, so must we stretch our descriptions of types of minds and begin profiling, rather than equating, other life forms we may encounter. COMPLEX (COmplexity of Markers for Profiling Life in EXobiology) offers a new approach to profile a variety of organisms along multiple dimensions including EQ - Encephalization Quotient, CS - Communication Signal complexity, IC - Individual Complexity, SC - Social Complexity and II - Interspecies Interaction. Because Earth species are found along a variety of continuums, defining an intelligence profile along these different trajectories rather than comparing them only to human intelligence, may give us insight into a potential tool for quickly assessing unknown species. The application of profiling nonhuman species, out of world, will be both observational and potentially interactive in some way. Using profiles and indicators gleaned from Earth species to help us develop profiles and using pattern recognition, modeling and other data mining techniques could help jump start our understanding of other organisms and their potential for certain "types" of intelligence. © 2013 IAA. Source

Green M.L.,Florida Atlantic University | Herzing D.L.,Florida Atlantic University | Baldwin J.D.,Wild Dolphin Project | Baldwin J.D.,Florida Atlantic University
Canadian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2011

Cetaceans are known to frequently engage in sexual behavior; however, the lack of male parental investment in offspring makes assessment of male reproductive success difficult. We assessed paternity in a small population (mean individuals sighted per year = 93) of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis (G. Cuvier, 1829)) utilizing noninvasively collected fecal material. Samples (n = 88) were collected from dolphins from four social clusters. Of the 29 offspring tested, 34.5% were assigned paternity, resulting in 10 paternities assigned to seven males. Our study indicates that achieving a certain age is a potential precursor for males to mate successfully, as 18 years was the youngest estimated age of a male at the time of calf conception. In all pairings but one, the males were older than the female (mean age difference = 7.7+ years). Successful males were from two of the four social clusters and males most often mated within their social group or with females from the next geographically closest group. The study combines genetic data with known maternal pedigree information and reveals patterns in the overall mating system in a cetacean species where reproductive success of males was previously unknown. Source

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