In my novel, The Last Island, an animal rights activist claims that dolphins possess intelligence, consciousness and even souls.
But is there any evidence for this?
Let’s start with dolphin intelligence. Dolphin brains are at least as large and well-developed as our own, and they and their ancestors have been ‘brainier’ for a lot longer. That said, we humans are proud of our technological society (despite the harm it may doing to the planet) and take it as a measure of own superiority or ‘dominion’ over the animals.
But if a technological society is proof of an intelligent species, why haven’t dolphins developed one?
An answer may be found in Isaac Asimov’s remarkably concise, Asimov’s Chronology of the World. Asimov writes that “water is so viscous a medium that it tends to enforce streamlining on any organism that wishes to move quickly within it. Fast-moving organisms are smoothly ‘fish-shaped’ in one way or another, and rarely have irregular shapes.” But in air, a less-viscous medium, irregular shapes are not such a problem. The result is that humans developed hands to manipulate the Universe about them, while dolphins did not.
In addition, the foundation of all technology, fire, can’t exist in water. So without fire and hands, no technological society is conceivable in water, which is the reason dolphins haven’t developed one.
The truth is: there’s no good reason to believe that dolphin intelligence isn’t superior to ours.
It was a capital offense to kill a dolphin in Ancient Greece. Maybe it’s something we should consider…
In a later post, I’ll address dolphin consciousness.