Dolphins Act Like "Boy Bands" to Attract Mate, Scientists Say
They dance and sing in unison to get some action.
Looks like it's not only the human world that has discovered the attention-getting potential of the TikTok dance. Dolphins engage in synchronized song and movement with their friends to attract a mate, marine scientists say, a ritual they compare to boy bands in concert. Read on to see how dolphins act like the Backstreet Boys.
"You'll hear this, 'Click click click click', and the pace and the tempo will be matched by these tightly bonded males in this bromance world," Shark Bay Dolphin Research Alliance (SBDRA) co-director Simon Allen told Australia's ABC News this week.
Allen has observed male dolphins, in groups of four to 14, making syncopated movements while singing in unison to attract females. He has given the dances nicknames including "The Butterfly Display" and "The Tango".
"It has been very clearly shown in humans and in some other primates, that when you perform these synchronous movements, and sing in unison, then that diminishes the perceived threat of opponents," he said.
Previous studies have found that male dolphins "sing" by using their "popping" calls, vocalizations that attract females. To human ears, they sound like a series of rapid clicks. Popping sounds are only used during mating periods, and scientists theorize that synchronized popping in groups is a way to make those sounds hard to overlook and increase the chances of successful pairing-up. The "boy bands"—or dolphin wingmen, if you will—have been observed to stay together for decades, increasing the chance of reproductive success.
Allen is just one of the scientists at SBDRA, which hosts American researchers studying the dolphins native to Shark Bay, which are some of the most studied in the world.
The scientists were previously in the news last March, with results of a study that popular dolphins—those who have more alliances with other male dolphins within larger social groups—have more success in mating. "Well-integrated males might be in a better position to harness the benefits of cooperation and access crucial resources such as food or mates. They may also be more resilient to partner loss compared to those with few, but closer partners," said study co-author Livia Gerber.
They Are Polyamorous
According to National Geographic, dolphins are social mammals that live living in groups of a dozen or more and communicate with squeaks, whistles, and clicks. They are mammals, so they have warm blood and nurse their young. Dolphins have more than one mate and generally produce a single offspring that will stay with the mother for up to six years.
Meredith MacQueeney, a Ph.D. Student from Georgetown University, described the dolphins as "really intelligent mammals."
"They have a social system that's quite different from our own," she told ABC. "And studying these animals allows us to think about questions like, you know, what is the nature of intelligence? How did that evolve?"
But are they wiser in the ways of love and seduction? That remains unclear.