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Tags: dolphin (45 pics), fish (144 pics)

Dolphin (11 pics)s are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of Dolphin (11 pics) in seventeen genera. They vary in size from 1.2 m (4 ft) and 40 kg (90 lb) (Maui's Dolphin (11 pics)), up to 9.5 m (30 ft) and 10 tonnes (9.8 LT; 11 ST) (the Orca or Killer Whale). They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating fish and squid. The family Delphinidae is the largest in the Cetacean order, and relatively recent: Dolphin (11 pics)s evolved about ten million years ago, during the Miocene. Dolphin (11 pics)s are among the most intelligent animals and their often friendly appearance and seemingly playful attitude have made them popular in human culture.

Origin of the name

The name is originally from Ancient Greek δελφίς (delphís; "Dolphin (11 pics)"), which was related to the Greek δελφύς (delphys; "womb"). The animal's name can therefore be interpreted as meaning "a 'fish' with a womb". The name was transmitted via the Latin delphinus, Middle Latin dolfinus and the Old French daulphin, which reintroduced the ph into the word.

The word is used in a few different ways. It can mean:

Any member of the family Delphinidae (oceanic Dolphin (11 pics)s),
Any member of the families Delphinidae and Platanistoidea (oceanic and river Dolphin (11 pics)s),
Any member of the suborder Odontoceti (toothed whales; these include the above families and some others),
Used casually as a synonym for Bottlenose Dolphin (11 pics), the most common and familiar species of Dolphin (11 pics).
This article uses the second definition and does not describe Porpoises (suborder Odontoceti, family Phocoenidae). Orcas and some closely related species belong to the Delphinidae family and therefore qualify as Dolphin (11 pics)s, even though they are called whales in common language. A group of Dolphin (11 pics)s is called a "school" or a "pod". Male Dolphin (11 pics)s are called "bulls", females "cows" and young Dolphin (11 pics)s are called "calves".

Hybrid Dolphin (11 pics)s

In 1933 (86 years ago), three strange Dolphin (11 pics)s beached off the Irish coast; they appeared to be hybrids between Risso's and Bottlenose Dolphin (11 pics)s. This mating was later repeated in captivity producing a hybrid calf. In captivity, a Bottlenose Dolphin (11 pics) and a Rough-toothed Dolphin (11 pics) produced hybrid offspring. A Common-Bottlenose hybrid lives at SeaWorld California. Other Dolphin (11 pics) hybrids live in captivity around the world or have been reported in the wild, such as a Bottlenose-Atlantic Spotted hybrid. The best known hybrid is the Wolphin, a False Killer Whale-Bottlenose Dolphin (11 pics) hybrid. The Wolphin is a fertile hybrid. Two Wolphins currently live at the Sea Life Park in Hawaii; the first was born in 1985 (34 years ago) from a male False Killer Whale and a female Bottlenose. Wolphins have also been observed in the wild.


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