More playful young male dolphins father more offspring

More playful young male dolphins father more offspring

Science reports:

Leaping over waves or body surfing side by side, dolphins are a fun-loving bunch. But their frolicking—and that of species from hyenas to humans—has long baffled evolutionary biologists. Why expend so much energy on play?

A new study offers an intriguing explanation: Juvenile male dolphins use play to acquire the skills required for fathering calves, researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Most significantly, the scientists found the most playful males go on to have more calves as adults. The study is likely to spur further research into play behavior in additional species, other scientists say.

“It’s exciting research, and it solves an evolutionary puzzle,” says Jennifer Smith, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. “This is the first study to link play behavior in the wild to reproductive success.” [Continue reading…]

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