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Akeakamai the Dolphin

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Eduardo Martínez

on 6 May 2014

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Transcript of Akeakamai the Dolphin

Akeakamai the Dolphin
A dolphin named Akeakamai has shown her ability to understand instructions given within an artificial sign language, in which gestures are like words and sequences of gestures are like sentences.

The work, like the later work with the bonobo, has demonstrated that dolphins and bonobos are capable of processing two of the fundamental properties of language system
One of the traits that characterizes our own species is language. Some have contended strongly that language is in fact unique to humans, and that no animal possesses language ability.
Understanding of symbolic references to absent objects
For this purpose, they constructed a new syntactic frame consisting of an object name followed by a gestural sign glossed as “Question”. For example, the two-item gestural sequence glossed as basket question asks whether a basket is present in the dolphin’s habitat.
Savage at Georgia State University has reported extensive findings with chimpanzee, showing the ability to understand many instructions given in English.

Understanding of symbolic references to absent objects
The dolphin could respond Yesby pressing a paddle to her right or No by pressing a paddle to her left. Over a series of such questions, with the particular objects present being changed over blocks of trials, the dolphin was as accurate at reporting that a named object was absent as she was at reporting that it was present.
Akeakamai (c. 1976 – November 22, 2003) was a female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin which tankmates were Phoenix, Elele and Hiapo. They were the subjects of Louis Herman's animal language studies.
Understanding of symbolic references to absent objects
Understanding of symbolic references to absent objects. Louis Herman and Paul Forestell tested the dolphin Akeakamai understanding of symbolic references to objects that were not present in the dolphin’s habitat at the time the reference was made.
Akeakamai and Louis Herman's
Understanding of symbolic references to absent objects
These results gave a clear indication that the gestures assigned to objects were understood referentially by the dolphin, that the gestures acted as symbolic references to those objects.
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