APR 05, 2017 6:37 AM PDT

Dolphins Thrash Their Food Before Swallowing

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

One of the types of food that dolphins are quite keen of are octopuses. For dolphins, they’re both tasty and bite-sized, but it turns out that they get pretty violent with their prey before eating it. They’ll toss it around, thrash it around violently, and practically beat it up even after removing the head.

A research team captures footage of a bottlenose dolphin violently handling its prey prior to eating it.

Image Credit: Kate Sprogis/Murdoch University

This includes essentially playing fetch with one’s self and then retrieving the carcass and slapping it against the water’s surface very hard. But why do they do this?

It turns out that dolphins simply need to process their food before eating it. The findings were published in the journal Marine Mammal Biology by researchers that studied the behavior in dolphins off of the coast of Western Australia.

Octopuses are much too large and stiff for dolphins to swallow whole, and more importantly, the tentacles prove to be a very real choking hazard for the animals.

Moreover, when severing the head of an octopus, the tentacles still manage to keep a mind of their own from the nervous system, similarly to the way lizard tails move around violently after being severed from the rest of the body, so it takes a little bit of persuasion on the dolphins’ part to lay the tentacles to rest for consumption.

In terms of the dolphin, which often devours the head first and the tentacles later, this can be deadly in and of itself, as the tentacles can crawl their way out of the stomach if not properly dealt with beforehand.

By performing these (sometimes violent) maneuvers to process their food beforehand, dolphins help eliminate the choking hazard. It breaks the carcasses apart and softens them up before they move forward with swallowing it.

For what it’s worth, the team noted that dismantling behaviors differed depending on the species and the region of the world where the dolphins were observed doing it. This would suggest that all of the animals learned from different teachers and that some populations may have even developed their own techniques.

So there you have it – dolphins are violent with their food to make sure it’s dead beforehand.

Source: Murdoch University

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JAN 06, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 06, 2020
Psychedelics Linked to Stronger Connection to Nature
Taking psychedelic drugs, sometimes referred to as “tripping,” was recently shown to increase individuals’ “nature relatedness&rdqu...
JAN 21, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 21, 2020
After Hibernation, These Grizzlies Turn to Clams for Nourishment
Grizzly bears spend up to seven Wintery months hibernating, and in that time, they can lose a substantial amount of their body weight. While surrounding ma...
FEB 07, 2020
Technology
FEB 07, 2020
Flyception 2.0: Tracks Complex Social Behavior of Flies
Researchers at the University of California San Diego now have a better understanding of the social behavior of insets thanks to advanced imaging technolog...
FEB 22, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 22, 2020
Evidence of Resistance to White-Nose Syndrome Appears in Some Bats
A small new study suggests that some bats might be able to resist a devastating fungal disease called white nose syndrome that has destroyed many bat populations....
MAR 12, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAR 12, 2020
Favorite Consumer Goods Drive Deforestation and Increase Malaria Risk
A new study, published this week in Nature Communications and the first of its kind, has linked demand for goods linked to deforestation to a rise in human...
MAR 17, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 17, 2020
The Common Roly Poly Isn't Actually an Insect
Most people assume that pill bugs, which are more colloquially referred to as ‘roly polies,’ are insects. But while you might find these little...
Loading Comments...