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Creative or novel behaviors in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) can be indicators of flexible thinking and problem solving. Over 50 years ago, two rough-tooth dolphins demonstrated creative novel behaviors acquired through reinforcement training in human care. Since this novel training, a variety of species have been trained to respond to this conceptual cue. The current study assessed the creativity of 12 bottlenose dolphins (5 females, 7 males) housed at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) in Roatan, Honduras. Individual differences were found across four constructs measured for creativity: fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality. Variability in performance occurred across test sessions. Animals with less experience with this task performed fewer “innovative” behaviors as compared to more experienced animals. Despite errors, dolphins continued to attempt the task during test sessions, suggesting the concept of “innovate” was intrinsically rewarding and cognitively engaging. This task may be utilized across species to promote the comparative study of innovative or creative behavior as well as to promote cognitive welfare.


This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Marine Mammal Cognition and Cognitive Welfare

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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