Dolphins may use complex nonlinear mathematics when hunting, according to a 2012 study.
Researchers modeled the types of echolocation pulses that dolphins emit. The researchers processed them using nonlinear mathematics instead of the standard way of processing sonar returns. The technique worked, and could explain how dolphins achieve hunting success with bubbles.
The math involved is complex. Essentially it relies upon sending out pulses that vary in amplitude. The first may have a value of 1 while the second is 1/3 that amplitude.
"So, provided the dolphin remembers what the ratios of the two pulses were, and can multiply the second echo by that and add the echoes together, it can make the fish 'visible' to its sonar," lead author Tim Leighton told Discovery News. "This is detection enhancement."
Parrots, chimpanzees and even pigeons have been shown to have an advanced understanding of numerical concepts. The studies together indicate that math ability is inborn in many species, with number sense, mathematical skills and verbal ability perhaps being separate talents in humans that we later learn to combine.