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How Dolphins Can Help Us Meet Aliens

Before we talk to ET, let's chat with our fellow Earthlings
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2011 12:15 PM CST
How Dolphins Can Help Us Meet Aliens
Lily, a bottlenose dolphin, swims in the new exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(Newser) – Scientists have been discovering plenty of new planets, and eventually, perhaps one will contain life—but we’d have no way to talk to the aliens. Until then, we can practice on creatures here on Earth: dolphins, who are capable of some surprisingly sophisticated thinking. We’ve tried to chat with them in our own fashion, but what about asking them to do the talking?

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One biologist has been working on a simple language, the first to allow “two-way communication” between humans and wild animals, Wired reports. Divers showed dolphins how to press on a keyboard to get items they wanted, and the dolphins showed interest, even bringing friends along. Communication worked best when humans first established a rapport with the dolphins, imitating them and making eye contact as humans do with each other. Perhaps, Wired notes, this inter-species “good manners” is universal—even beyond our planet. (Read more dolphins stories.)

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