Dolphins are marine mammals closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from 4 ft and 90 lb, up to 30 ft and 10 tons. They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, eating mostly fish and squid. There are many dolphin facts for kids and students, below are a bunch of fun facts.
Dolphin Facts For Kids
- The family Delphinidae is the largest in the Cetacean order, and evolved relatively recently, about ten million years ago, during the Miocene.
- Dolphins are among the most intelligent animals, and their often friendly appearance, an artifact of the “smile” of their mouthline, and seemingly playful attitude have made them very popular in human culture.
- The name is originally from Greek δελφίς (delphís), “dolphin”, which was related to the Greek δελφύς (delphus), “womb”.
- The term mereswine (that is, “sea pig”) has also historically been used.
- It can mean: any member of the family Delphinidae (oceanic dolphins), any member of the family Delphinidae or the superfamily Platanistoidea (oceanic and river dolphins), any member of the suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales; these include the above families and some others), and is used casually as a synonym for bottlenose dolphin, the most common and familiar species of dolphin.
- In October 2006, an unusual bottlenose dolphin was captured in Japan; it had small fins on each side of its genital slit, which scientists believe to be a more pronounced development of these vestigial hind limbs.
- A study at the U.S. National Marine Mammal Foundation revealed that dolphins, like humans, develop a natural form of type 2 diabetes, which may lead to a better understanding of the disease and new treatments for both humans and dolphins.
- Another learned behavior was discovered among river dolphins in Brazil, where some male dolphins use weeds and sticks as part of a sexual display.
- They usually become sexually active at a young age, even before reaching sexual maturity.
- Fish and squid are the main food, but the false killer whale and the orca also feed on other marine mammals.
- In this case, respiration is automatic; a tail kick reflex keeps the blowhole above the water if necessary.
- In Hindu mythology, the Ganges River Dolphin is associated with Ganga, the deity of the Ganges river.
- The military use of dolphins, however, drew scrutiny during the Vietnam War when rumors circulated that the United States Navy was training dolphins to kill Vietnamese divers.
- Dolphins play a military role in William Gibson’s short story Johnny Mnemonic, in which cyborg dolphins find submarines and decode encrypted information.
- Dolphin meat is consumed in a small number of countries world-wide, which include Japan and Peru.