Justin Dowd: The True Story of Whale Brains
December 18, 2012
Humans may not be the first life forms on Earth to evolve love and language. Researchers recently discovered an abundance of rare neurons in several ocean mammals’ brains thought to exist only in primates.
Fin, humpback and killer whales (species of dolphin), contain spindle cells. Growing evidence indicates these specialized neurons are integral for self-awareness, empathy, love, suffering, language and judgment in humans. Early estimates reveal whales have three times the number of spindles as people, who boast the most of all primates. The cells act as electrical shortcuts allowing gut reactions.
Whales and dolphins display human behavior, like forming family groups. Individuals even have names. Adult male humpbacks, recently thought to be solitary drifters, often join others. Decades later, some best buds remain together and even sing with identical signatures, capable of communicating through 1,000 kilometers of ocean, 10 times the distance to space.
Read Justin’s full article in the Metro and see his latest chalk animation: