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Are Dolphins Really Smart? - The mammal behind the myth


How intelligent are dolphins? Is their communication system really as complex as human language? And are they as friendly and peaceful as they are made out to be?

  • Gives an up to date account of what we know about dolphins from science

  • Takes a critical look at the myths and psuedoscience notions that abound about dolphins

  • How can we tell? Provides fascinating accounts of ingenious experiements to test the intelligence and other behaviours of dolphins

  • Includes intriguing accounts of the abilities of a variety of animals, such as the crow family and chimpanzees

  • Engaging but scientifically serious account that will fascinate general readers and be invaluable to students of animal behaviour

The Western world has had an enduring love affair with dolphins since the early 1960s, with fanciful claims of their 'healing powers' and 'super intelligence'. Myths and pseudoscience abound on the subject.

Gregg weighs up the claims made about dolphin intelligence and separates scientific fact from fiction. He puts our knowledge about dolphin behaviour and intelligence into perspective, with comparisons to scientific studies of other animals, especially the crow family and great apes.

He gives fascinating accounts of the challenges of testing what an animal with flippers and no facial expressions might be animal behaviour, Gregg challenges many of the widespread beliefs about dolphins, while also inspiring the reader with the remarkable abilities common to many of the less glamorized animals around us - such as chickens.


Justin Gregg, Research Associate, Dolphin Communication Project

Justin Gregg is a research associate with the Dolphin Communication Project, and Co-Editor of the academic journal Aquatic Mammals. He received his doctorate from Trinity College Dublin in 2008, having studied social cognition and the echolocation behavior of wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.

With an undergraduate background in linguistics, Justin is particularly interested in the study of dolphin communication as it pertains to comparisons of human (natural) language and animal communication systems.


Are Dolphins Really Smart? - The mammal behind the myth, Justin Gregg, Oxford University Press, 2015.

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