- Complex, nonlinear math appears to explain a primary dolphin hunting technique.
- The math involves addition, subtraction, multiplication and ratio comparisons.
- It is possible that dolphins possess remarkable inborn math skills.
Dolphins may use complex nonlinear mathematics when hunting, according to a new study that suggests these brainy marine mammals could be far more skilled at math than was ever thought possible before.
Inspiration for the new study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society A, came after lead author Tim Leighton watched an episode of the Discovery Channel's "Blue Planet" series and saw dolphins blowing multiple tiny bubbles around prey as they hunted.
"I immediately got hooked, because I knew that no man-made sonar would be able to operate in such bubble water," explained Leighton, a professor of ultrasonics and underwater acoustics at the University of Southampton, where he is also an associate dean.
"These dolphins were either 'blinding' their most spectacular sensory apparatus when hunting -- which would be odd, though they still have sight to reply on -- or they have a sonar that can do what human sonar cannot...Perhaps they have something amazing," he added.