Dolphins are recognized for their natural ability to use sound, or echolocation, to detect the shape, size, and speed of objects under water. But the marine mammal's visual perception of the world is less well-understood.
In a new study, led by Masaki Tomonaga from Kyoto University in Japan, researchers looked at how bottlenose dolphins perceive a range of simple, two-dimensional objects compared with chimpanzees and humans.
Previous studies of dolphin vision have used complicated, three-dimensional shapes, making it hard for researchers to identify the types of visual "cues" — like curves or diagonal lines — that dolphins use to suss out differences or similarities among objects.
Dolphins have limited color vision and poorer visual acuity, or clearness of vision from a specific distance, both in air and under water than primates. Despite these differences, bottlenose dolphins "perceive the world in fundamentally similar ways" to other primates, the study authors wrote in the journal Scientific Reports.
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