"The human side of this dolphin-fishermen interaction is maintained through inter-generational information transfer, that is, teaching by elders, and it is likely that a similar process is used to transmit complex behavioral traits between generations of dolphins, as found in other localized behaviors, such as 'sponging' in Shark Bay, Western Australia," they wrote.
"Sponging" refers to how some bottlenose dolphins tear off pieces of marine sponges and wear them on their snouts during foraging to protect them from scrapes and other damage.
Dolphin smarts help to explain some of these complex behaviors.
Lori Marino, a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Emory University, told Discovery News, "If we use relative brain size as a metric of 'intelligence' then one would have to conclude that dolphins are second in intelligence to modern humans."
Cooperation also appears to be a key component of advanced learning among all animals, and not just dolphins.
Luke McNally of the Theoretical Ecology Research Group at Trinity College Dublin explained, "The idea that the demands of complex social interactions could have driven the evolution of intelligence has been around since the mid 70's. Most work on this hypothesis since then has utilized data from the primates to show that various social characteristics, such as group size, group stability and deception, correlate with brain size."