Young dolphins may hit an important developmental milestone before humans do.

By Marisa Spyker
February 08, 2018
Ruth Petzold/Getty Images

There’s no denying that dolphins are intelligent creatures—often thought to be second only to humans in the world.

But according to a new report, these darlings of the sea might actually surpass humans when it comes to early self-awareness.

The study used a test called mirror self-recognition, which many scientists consider to be a measure for determining self-awareness and intelligence. Human infants, when presented with a mirror, seem to begin recognizing themselves around 12 months, whereas chimpanzees lag behind at around 2 years.

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Bottlenose dolphins, on the other hand, showed signs of self-awareness at just 7 months old.

The researchers conducted the experiment with both a male and female dolphin, with both showing behaviors like blowing bubbles or twirling in front of an underwater mirror. They also passed a test in which a mark was drawn on the dolphins’ bodies in a place that could only be noticed with the help of a mirror.

Insignificant to the science but worth mentioning is that Foster, the male dolphin, spent much more time in front of the mirror than Bayley, the female dolphin, did, according to researcher Dr. Diana Reiss.

“He clearly was interested in viewing himself,” Reiss told the New York Times.  

So go ahead and do with that information what you will.