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Study: Male Dolphins Woo Females With ‘Gifts', Develop Wingman Relationships

© Photo : PixabayOcean life
Ocean life - Sputnik International
FYI, the courting scene isn't so different under the sea.

Recently published in Scientific Reports, a decade-long study by Australian and Swiss researchers finds that male Australian humpback dolphins tear sponges from the ocean floor to impress their female counterparts.

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"It could be gift-giving in the sense that humans do it," Simon Allen, the lead researcher, told ABC News. "Diamond rings [and] roses and the like in order to impress a female or to suggest that he is somebody that would be a really wise idea to mate with."

Forget diamonds, folks, sponges are a girl's best friend, it seems.

"It appears the females tend to be ignoring the male and then it kind of ramps up to the point where he's a bit frustrated and he tosses the sponge in the direction of the female," Allen added.

Researchers also speculated that the gift giving could be a display of strength since the sponges aren't exactly easy to come by.

"We know that the sponges are firmly fixed to the seafloor," Allen said. "They have to withstand things like 10-metre tides in the Kimberley… so it would require some strength to take the sponge from the seafloor, and of course they don't have opposable thumbs or even hands."

But sponge tossing isn't the only tactic dolphins use to get some attention — they also sing.

"Prior to or after a sponge presentation we have also heard a trumpeting sound coming out of the blowhole, which was completely unexpected," Allen said. "I guess if you're trying anything to impress a lady then that's the way to go."

Stephanie King, a co-author of the study, noted that dolphins also form wingman relationships to help seal the deal with ladies.

​"The formation of alliances between adult males for the purposes of coercing females is uncommon, since mating success cannot be shared," King said in a statement. "This is a new finding for this species, and presents an exciting avenue for future research."

Per Allen, "it would make some sense to work with a partner."

Researchers will be staying in the Land Down Under in hopes of determining whether courting behavior exhibited by the dolphins leads to any offspring.

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