Whales and Dolphins May Deserve 'Personhood' Status
By Jess Kilby,  Newser User
Posted Jun 26, 2009 2:38 AM CDT
A blue whale in Timor waters. The government of East Timor says it plans to establish a national park to protect a motherload of dolphins and whales recently discovered off its coast.   (AP Photo/NRETAS, Kiki Dethmers, HO)
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(Newser) – Whales and dolphins have highly evolved social structures and may deserve a “personhood” status similar to that being considered for members of the great ape family, Wired reports. The emotional and social areas of the cetacean brain are “enormously complex,” notes one researcher, “and in many species are “even more highly elaborated than in the human brain.”

The use of sound among whales and dolphins is particularly advanced, and researchers say there may be “something like grammar, syntax, even language” in the complex songs and codas passed between generations and individuals. The sonar use of sound has interesting social implications as well. “There’s nowhere to hide,” notes a researcher. “They can use sound to form an image of each other’s insides—whether you’re pregnant, hungry, sick.”