Race to Space: The true story of whale brains

Humans may not be the first life forms on Earth to evolve love and language. Researchers recently discovered an abundance of rare neurons in several ocean mammals’ brains thought to exist only in primates.

Fin, humpback and killer whales (species of dolphin), contain spindle cells. Growing evidence indicates these specialized neurons are integral for self-awareness, empathy, love, suffering, language and judgment in humans. Early estimates reveal whales have three times the number of spindles as people, who boast the most of all primates. The cells act as electrical shortcuts allowing gut reactions.

Whales and dolphins display human behavior, like forming family groups. Individuals even have names. Adult male humpbacks, recently thought to be solitary drifters, often join others. Decades later, some best buds remain together and even sing with identical signatures, capable of communicating through 1,000 kilometers of ocean, 10 times the distance to space.

Peter Tyack of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has said, “Humpback song is a form of animal culture, just like music for humans would be.” Popular songs change over time, while original songs are important to a female’s choice in mates.

Captive bottlenose dolphins show awareness through self-recognition in mirrors and check themselves out daily, some as early as the age of 6 months. Human toddlers realize mirrors show their reflection around 18 months.

Mysteries of the ocean unravel each year. In 2007, part of a bomb used to hunt whales in the 1880s was found lodged in the shoulder of a dead bowhead. Eye samples of bowhead whales revealed many individuals in their mid-hundreds, one as old as 240 greatly surpassing humans as the oldest living mammal. This means right now, the oceans contain self-aware animals that have been swimming since Thomas Jefferson was president.

Whales have evolved twice as long as primates and contain spindle cells in parts of the brain not found in people. These discoveries indicate Earth’s first self-aware life form was not a person, but a whale. Love and language, previously thought to be uniquely human, likely unfolded beneath ocean waves 15 million years before primates. The oceans are not what they seem.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Gossip

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

Music

Incubus singer Brandon Boyd on his newest act,…

The rocker is releasing two new passion projects.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…