Research has verified that dolphins refer to each other by a unique name, signified by a specific whistle sequence. If his “signature whistle” is echoed back underwater by a recording, the dolphin will respond by repeating its name.

The latest issue of ScienceNews reported on this discovery by researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. This linguistic ability has always been believed to be unique to humans and not found in the animal kingdom.

“The signature whistle, a distinct tune each dolphin develops for itself and broadcasts to others, may act as a sort of audible nametag. Scientists knew dolphins exchanged signature whistles when meeting at sea, but no one knew if the animals responded to these names.’ King and Janik [researchers] recorded wild dolphins’ chirps and squeaks and then played the signature whistles back for the animals. When dolphins heard their own signature whistles, they whistled the tune back.”

(Meghan Rosen, “Dolphins name themselves with a whistle: The marine mammals respond only to their own handles” ScienceNews 7/22/13)

Dolphin “Wild bottlenose dolphins respond to hearing their “signature whistles,” specific high-pitched tunes that may serve as the animals’ names.” 

Although assumed to be unique to humans, the intelligence demonstrated in language abilities of living beings becomes more and more amazing. As believers in a three part physical/spiritual/intelligent composition of life, as revealed by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints should not be surprised.

Additional previous research has shown complex language capabilities in the “lowly” prairie dog, including being able to identify unique predators and reference them with their complex warning barks.

(Ronald P. Millett and John P. Pratt, “Prairie Dog Language? Prairie dogs use a sophisticated vocabulary in their warning barks, which again raises the question of whether mankind alone communicates by audible language.” Meridian Magazine, May 19, 2005. )