Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dolphin mothers carrying their young

Do you get tired carrying your child? Imagine carrying one underwater. Results of a two-year study by Shawn Noren of UC Santa Cruz show how mothers "carry" their newborn young by assisting their swimming in an "eschelon" formation. Much like how bicycle racers can draft off pack leaders, the young calf benefits from staying in their mother's slipstream. They can move faster than the could alone, say to stay with the dolphin pod, and even take a break to save energy for growing up. The study analyzed underwater video measured the speeds of mother and calf alone and together. The paper is published in Functional Ecology but has also been highlighted in The Economist and on the Quirks & Quarks CBC Podcast.

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