APR 05, 2017 06:37 AM PDT

Dolphins Thrash Their Food Before Swallowing

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
JUL 11, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 11, 2018
Salamanders May Fare Better Against Climate Change Than Initially Believed
Many of the world’s animals display some type of response to the hazardous effects imposed by climate change. In most cases, the response isn’t...
JUL 16, 2018
Earth & The Environment
JUL 16, 2018
Do you know what your sunscreen is doing to coral reefs?
Hawaii Governor David Ige has signed into law a ban on the sale, offer, or distribution of any sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate. That means t...
JUL 23, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUL 23, 2018
Developing Self-fertilizing Plants
Plants of the future may not need to be fertilized; they might create their own nutrients. That could be a huge relief for the planet....
JUL 25, 2018
Earth & The Environment
JUL 25, 2018
Does location sharing hurt or help endangered species?
Does sharing the locations of rare and endangered species help or harm those species? That’s the question that scientists from the University of Sydn...
AUG 12, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
AUG 12, 2018
Bringing Genetics Research to the Developing World
Researchers want to ensure that technology is distributed equitably, to benefit everyone....
SEP 11, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 11, 2018
21 'New to Science' Parasitoid Wasps Described in Study
Those who observe nature for a living are bound to happen upon captivating discoveries. For a team of North American researchers, that apparently meant ide...
Loading Comments...