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January 22 2013

Sperm Whales Adopt Deformed Dolphin

Sperm whales are fierce squid hunters, but they also have a softer side. In a serendipitous sighting in the North Atlantic, researchers have discovered a group of the cetaceans that seem to have taken in an adult bottlenose dolphin with a spinal malformation, at least temporarily. It may be that both species simply liked the social contact.

Creatures form "friendly" connections with members of other species throughout the animal kingdom. These often short-lived relationships can offer increased protection from predators and more effective foraging. Some particularly unusual alliances illustrate that they can also satisfy a social craving. For example, the signing gorilla Koko had a pet cat named All Ball; in a Kenyan nature park, a hippopotamus, Owen, grew close to a giant tortoise, Mzee.

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