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Humans prefer to associate with other humans who share their subculture.
That’s why there are knitting clubs and fantasy football leagues.
And it turns out that dolphins also form cliques: researchers found that
dolphins known as spongers spend most of their time with other spongers.
The study is in the journal Nature Communications. [Janet Mann et al,
Social networks reveal cultural behaviour in tool-using dolphins]
Spongers are a small subset of dolphins that use marine basket sponges to
hunt for prey. The dolphins wear the sponges over their beaks to protect
themselves from rocks and broken coral when they are searching for
nutritious food on the sea floor.
Sponging is passed down from parents to their young. And because the
practice is socially learned, researchers agree that spongers are
culturally distinct from other dolphins.
These findings are consistent with the notion that dolphins form
fission-fusion societies—where all dolphins in a community belong to the
same larger group, but have specific friends whom they spend most of their
time with. Of course, scientists have yet to find out which dolphin clique
is the coolest.
S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC NetLab Director
Department of Sociology 725 Spadina Avenue, Room 388
University of Toronto Toronto Canada M5S 2J4 twitter:barrywellman
Updating history: http://chass.utoronto.ca/oldnew/cybertimes.php
Just published: NETWORKED: The New Social Operating System.
Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman. MIT Press.
Hardbound $19; Kindle $16
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