A team of scientists has found evidence that bottlenose dolphins have demonstrated episodic memory, a phenomenon that up until recently was thought to occur only in humans.
Episodic memory involves remembering not just a specific event, but a wide range of things around an event. For instance, what people were wearing, as well as what was said, and how someone looked.
Researchers have shown that some animals (dogs, fish, rats etc.) have demonstrated episodic memory, but dolphins had not been tested. Now, after experiments on eight dolphins, it seems that they too are capable of episodic memory.
The experiment involved the dolphins swimming around a pool, finding a ball held by certain individuals at a predefined position around the pool’s edge. The experiment showed that when the researchers hid the ball behind their back, the dolphins were able to use the “where” section to find positions where the ball was previously located and the “who” function to select people who had the balls.