Dolphins may use complex nonlinear maths when hunting, according to a new study that suggests they could be far more skilled than was ever thought possible before.
Inspiration for the new study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society A, came after lead author Tim Leighton watched an episode of the Discovery Channel’s Blue Planet series and saw dolphins blowing multiple tiny bubbles around prey as they hunted.
“I immediately got hooked, because I knew that no man-made sonar would be able to operate in such bubble water,” says Leighton, a professor of ultrasonics and underwater acoustics at the University of Southampton.
“These dolphins were either ‘blinding’ their most spectacular sensory apparatus when hunting - which would be odd, though they still have sight to reply on - or they have a sonar that can do what human sonar cannot …Perhaps they have something amazing,” he adds.
Leighton and colleagues Paul White and student Gim Hwa Chua set out to determine what the amazing ability might be.