It doesn't stop at sentences—the mammals also use “words” to communicate.

By Erika Owen
September 13, 2016
Dolphin Language
Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF

We knew dolphins were smart, but a new study in the St. Petersburg Polytechnical University Journal: Physics and Mathematics reports that the animals are even more intelligent than previously thought—particularly when it comes to the “spoken language” they use to communicate.

The study is based on two captive Black Sea bottlenose dolphins. While we already knew that dolphins communicate through various acoustic signals, further research found that they actually string together various words (more like pulses than what we would most commonly classify as words) and appeared to listen to each other's calls before responding with their own.

The research followed the dolphins' pulses using a two-channel system—meaning they can track two sources of sound up to a frequency of 220 kilohertz and up to 81 decibels.

This is one step toward better understanding our flippered friends, but as we all know, body language can share so much more about a relationship. Scientists hope that this spoken language development can help further understanding of the way dolphins interact with each other.

Erika Owen is the Senior Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.