Dolphins and whales squeal after pleasant moments, researchers noticed long ago, such as receiving a tasty fish treat. A new study supports that these happy sounds are genuine expressions of delight.
The discovery, published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, not only helps to explain the meaning of these sounds but also provides evidence that dolphins and whales experience joy.
"We think we have demonstrated that (the squeal) has emotional content," said lead author Sam Ridgway, president of the National Marine Mammal Foundation.
10 Animals That Can Speak for Themselves
When human children - and some adults - squeal out of happiness there's a 100–200 millisecond delay from the time of the event and the happy sound. That's because the event prompts the release of a compound called dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Once dopamine is released, a person usually feels good and may get a boost of self-confidence.