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First footage of dolphin mum adopting a calf from different species

July 30, 2019 - In 2014, researchers off French Polynesia spotted a bottlenose dolphin mother caring for an unusual-looking calf. That calf was a melon-headed whale, a different genus and species than the mother. Adoption is uncommon among wild mammals, with most occurring between related members of the same species. The whale orphan entered the dolphin group and stayed with the mother longer than even her biological offspring, who vanished mysteriously. She was even seen nursing it at times. Female bottlenose dolphins have been known to “steal” babies of other species for brief periods of times during times of conflict. In this case, the mother made an enormous time commitment to the orphan. During its three years living with this pod of 30 dolphins, the orphan learned several bottlenose behaviors, such as surfing.

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