Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Tail walking in a bottlenose dolphin community: the rise and fall of an arbitrary cultural 'fad'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Social learning of adaptive behaviour is widespread in animal populations, but the spread of arbitrary behaviours is less common. In this paper, we describe the rise and fall of a behaviour called tail walking, where a dolphin forces the majority of its body vertically out of the water and maintains the position by vigourously pumping its tail, in a community of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus). The behaviour was introduced into the wild following the rehabilitation of a wild female individual, Billie, who was temporarily co-housed with trained dolphins in a dolphinarium. This individual was sighted performing the behaviour seven years after her 1988 release, as was one other female dolphin named Wave. Initial production of the behaviour was rare, but following Billie's death two decades after her release, Wave began producing the behaviour at much higher rates, and several other dolphins in the community were subsequently sighted performing the behaviour. Social learning is the most likely mechanism for the introduction and spread of this unusual behaviour, which has no known adaptive function. These observations demonstrate the potential strength of the capacity for spontaneous imitation in bottlenose dolphins, and help explain the origin and spread of foraging specializations observed in multiple populations of this genus.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180314
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Volume14
Issue number9
Early online date5 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

    Research areas

  • Social learning, Cultural transmission, Cetacean, Bottlenose dolphin

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Animal cultures matter for conservation

    Brakes, P., Dall, S. R. X., Aplin, L. M., Bearhop, S., Carroll, E. L., Ciucci, P., Fishlock, V., Ford, J. K. B., Garland, E. C., Keith, S. A., McGregor, P. K., Mesnick, S. L., Noad, M. J., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Robbins, M. M., Simmonds, M. P., Spina, F., Thornton, A., Wade, P. R., Whiting, M. J. & 5 othersWilliams, J., Rendell, L., Whitehead, H., Whiten, A. & Rutz, C., 8 Mar 2019, In : Science. 363, 6431, p. 1032-1034 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Habitat use of culturally distinct Galápagos sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus clans

    Eguiguren, A., Pirotta, E., Cantor, M., Rendell, L. & Whitehead, H., 17 Jan 2019, In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 609, p. 257-270

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Kinship and association do not explain vocal repertoire variation among individual sperm whales or social units

    Konrad, C. M., Frasier, T. R., Rendell, L., Whitehead, H. & Gero, S., Nov 2018, In : Animal Behaviour. 145, p. 131-140 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Social learning strategies: bridge-building between fields

    Kendal, R., Boogert, N., Rendell, L., Laland, K. N., Webster, M. & Jones, P., Jul 2018, In : Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 22, 7, p. 651-665 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  5. Presence of an audience and consistent interindividual differences affect archerfish shooting behaviour

    Jones, N. A. R., Webster, M., Templeton, C. N., Schuster, S. & Rendell, L., Jul 2018, In : Animal Behaviour. 141, p. 95-103 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Adaptive suicide: is a kin-selected driver of fatal behaviours likely?

    Humphreys, R. K. & Ruxton, G. D., 27 Feb 2019, In : Biology Letters. 15, 2, 20180823.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. Raw-material selectivity in hook-tool-crafting New Caledonian crows

    Klump, B. C., Cantat, M. & Rutz, C., Feb 2019, In : Biology Letters. 15, 2, 6 p., 20180836.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Dominance structure of assemblages is regulated over a period of rapid environmental change

    Jones, F. A. M. & Magurran, A. E., Jun 2018, In : Biology Letters. 14, 6

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Inclusive fitness for in-laws

    Dyble, M., Gardner, A., Vinicius, L. & Migliano, A., Oct 2018, In : Biology Letters. 14, 10

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Biology Letters (Journal)

    Graeme Douglas Ruxton (Editor)
    2012 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Biology Letters (Journal)

    Karen Anne Spencer (Member of editorial board)
    1 Apr 2011

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Biology Letters (Journal)

    David Michael Shuker (Member of editorial board)
    2011

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Biology Letters (Journal)

    Josep Call (Member of editorial board)
    20072013

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  5. Biology Letters (Journal)

    Richard William Byrne (Member of editorial board)
    20072012

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

ID: 255731953