World Bulletin / News Desk
A small population of dolphins in Western Australia state not only use sponges to help catch fish but the rare hunting technique has been passed from mother to daughter for generations, Australian researchers said.
Sightings of dolphins carrying sponges on their snouts to protect their sensitive noses while dislodging fish and crustaceans from the rocky ocean floor has been recorded since the 1980s.
But researchers at the University of New South Wales added a new dimension to their research by using computer modelling of behaviour and genetics to estimate how long the technique, which they call "sponging", has gone on.
"What's unique about the sponging behaviour is that only about five percent of dolphins use the sponges as a tool, and it's only one maternal line," said Anna Kopps at the University of New South Wales Evolution Ecologist Research Centre.
"What's new about this study now is we've got the time perspective," she told Reuters.
Scientists believe one single female started sponging in Shark Bay, Western Australia, and all her descendants in that area learned the behaviour from their mothers.
Knowing this, and that the sponging was done 30 years ago, computer modelling allowed them to study the spread of the behaviour over the past three decades -- and then reverse the process using genetics and behaviour to figure out when it might have begun.
Ultimately, they estimated that sponging has been going on for some 180 years, or roughly eight generations of dolphins.
"It's interesting that the behaviour doesn't spread to the entire population and it doesn't go extinct either," said Kopps.
Dolphin offspring are dependent on their mothers for about four years, giving them ample time to observe and learn survival techniques. The maximum lifespan of a dolphin is about 40 years.
"We don't know if it's teaching or other forms of learning," Kopps said.
While male dolphins also learn sponging from their mothers, the study found they don't pass the technique on.
"Some males use it but not many and it will be a dead end because they don't learn from the dads," Kopps said.
Roughly 70 million tonnes of fibres are traded globally per year, but nearly two thirds are made from non-renewable products like petroleum and natural gas.
Researchers havfe said that the flaw leaves data stored by apps vulnerable with almost every category of app considered vulnerable
SpaceX revealed Monday that it is building a test track for the Hyperloop, a concept for ultra-fast ground transport the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, unveiled.
Biologists have created chicken embryos with dinosaur-like faces by tinkering with the molecules that build the birds' beaks.
Product available for pre-order in nine countries but devices won’t ship for weeks.
Nobel Prize-winning scientists' discovery can be manufactured cheaper thanks to Nanografi process.
Most industry experts expect the first product of 5G technology in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The slowdown in the rate of rising temperatures, from faster gains in the 1980s and 1990s, has puzzled scientists because heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions
The discovery challenges currently held theories that black holes and their host galaxies grew in relative lockstep over the eons.
Australian researchers are developing the new way to have a final product for Boeing Co, Airbus Group NV, very quickly than now. 3D printing can cut production times for components from three months to just six days.
Bogachev is charged in the United States with running a computer attack network called GameOver Zeus that allegedly stole more than $100 million from online bank accounts.
The account started sharing videos and photos of the militant group a few days ago
U.S., UK spies hacked SIM card maker Gemalto's system, Intercept says, giving spies ability to monitor calls on billions of phones
The next time an earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest, a handful of computers in offices across the region will have access to a software that will send out an alarm, alerting people before the earthquake strikes.
Researchers in Britain have discovered that limpet teeth exhibit a strength that is potentially higher than spider silk.