How well do you know dolphins? Take the quiz

Cute dolphin

Dolphins are smart marine mammals that bring great joy to humans. Don't you want to know more about these fascinating members of the cetacean family? Test your dolphin IQ here.

Question 1 of 17

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Happy dolphin
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The order Cetacea is comprised if 2 suborders, Odontoceti (toothed) and?

Mysticeti comes from the Greek word "mystax" (meaning "mustache” ...  cuteness ensues!) and refers to whales that have baleen plates for filtering food instead of having teeth. However, dolphins fall into the Odontoceti suborder and are thus considered "toothed whales." Confusing? A bit, but they are further classified within that suborder by their family, Delphinidae, also known as dolphins.

Question 2 of 17

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Although dolphins have teeth, they do not chew food with them. What do they do instead?

They also get their water from the food that they eat; since they don't sweat like humans do, they don't need as much hydration.

Question 3 of 17

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Dolphin baby
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How long is the gestation period for dolphins?

And after giving birth, the baby dolphin will nurse from 11 months to two years; and will stay with its mom until it is 3 to 8 years old. Aww!

Question 4 of 17

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Baby dolphin
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What is a baby dolphin called?

And that keeps the creatures in line with the cattle theme: adult females are called "cows" and adult males are known as "bulls."

Question 5 of 17

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Despite the name, what do killer whales (orcas) have in common with dolphins?

Although closely related, killer whales are not whales at all. They are the largest member of the dolphin family (and can reach 25 feet in length and weigh up to 19,000 pounds!).

Question 6 of 17

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Sleeping dolphin
Since dolphins have a voluntary respiratory system and breathing requires conscious effort, how do they sleep without drowning?

Along with half of the brain remaining awake, they keep one eye open as well. After around two hours, the dolphin shuts down the awake side of the brain and wakes up the rested half. Clever!

Question 7 of 17

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Dolphin smile
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Like elephants and magpies, dolphins have what skill that suggests a form of self-awareness?

In addition, their ability to understand symbols is similar to that of the great apes or "animal-language prodigies" like the African grey parrot, Alex, who learned more than 100 words!

Question 8 of 17

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Orca mom and baby
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What is it called when a dolphin extends its head vertically out of the water?

They do it to have a view of what's going on "upstairs," and remarkably, their eyes have evolved so that they can see just about as well out of water as humans can.

Question 9 of 17

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Carl Sagan
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In 1961, scientist Carl Sagan joined a semi-secret society called the Order of the Dolphin; what was the group's mission?

Started by neuroscientist John C. Lilly, the group thought that by understanding the language of dolphins, any alien language could be deciphered. Although Lilly was a brilliant scientist, he was also known for dropping acid while in sensory depravation tanks (which he invented) and often in the company of dolphins. All in the name of science, of course.

Question 10 of 17

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What is the rounded part of a dolphin's forehead called?

The melon is home to a fatty substance called "acoustic fat," which the dolphin uses to assist in sound recognition. 

Question 11 of 17

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Dolphins swimming
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Chile, Costa Rica, Hungary and India all made what declaration about dolphins?

As "non-human persons," dolphins in these countries have gained some rights; their capture is banned, as is the import of live dolphins for entertainment. Score one for the dolphins!

Question 12 of 17

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Dolphin nose
John Liu/Flickr
What is the proper name for a dolphin's nose?

And to make them even cuter, calves are born with whiskers on their rostrums, but these whiskers fall out not long after birth.

Question 13 of 17

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Dolphins use sound to detect things. What is this acoustic ability called?

Dolphins use this natural sonar to detect the speed, size and shape of objects hundreds of yards away. It is so exact they can determine the difference between a golf ball and a Ping-Pong ball based on density alone.

Question 14 of 17

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Dolphin skin
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How often is a dolphin's outermost skin shed and replaced with a new layer?

A bottlenose dolphin's sloughing rate is nine times faster than humans; it creates a smooth body surface that is thought to increase swimming efficiency.  

Question 15 of 17

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Dolphin jump
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Why do scientists think that dolphins jump out of the water?

While scientists aren't exactly sure why dolphins jump so frequently, all of these reasons have been suggested. Other reasons include potentially helping rid the skin of parasites and to communicate with other dolphins.

Question 16 of 17

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Dolphin skeleton
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Dolphins evolved from land mammals 50 million years ago. What animals are they related to?

While earlier theories connected cetaceans to wolves, more recent research suggests that whales and dolphins are more closely related to hippopotamuses.

Question 17 of 17

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Maui's dolphin
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The smallest species of dolphin, Maui's dolphin, is about how long?

While the bottlenose dolphin is around 8 feet long, the petite Maui's dolphin is around 4 feet long and weighs around 90 pounds. Found only off the west coast of New Zealand, they are critically endangered, but efforts are in place to help them survive. Go, little guys, go!