Animal Cognition

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 115–123

Spontaneous pointing by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

  • Mark J. Xitco
  • John D. Gory
  • Stan A. Kuczaj
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s100710100107

Cite this article as:
Xitco, M.J., Gory, J.D. & Kuczaj, S.A. Anim.Cogn. (2001) 4: 115. doi:10.1007/s100710100107


Two bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) participating in a symbolic communication project spontaneously developed behaviors that resembled pointing and gaze alternation. The dolphins' behavior demonstrated several features reminiscent of referential communicative behavior. It was triadic, involving a signaler, receiver, and referent. It was also indicative, specifying a focus of attention. The dolphins' points were distinct from the act of attending to or acting on objects. Spontaneous dolphin pointing was influenced by the presence of a potential receiver, and the distance between that receiver and the dolphin. These findings suggest that dolphins are capable of producing referential gestures.

Dolphin Pointing Cognition

Supplementary material

10071_2001_107_MOESM1_ESM.rar (18.1 mb)
Electronic Supplementary Material 1 (RAR 18545 KB)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark J. Xitco
    • 1
  • John D. Gory
    • 2
  • Stan A. Kuczaj
    • 4
  1. 1.Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Code D352, CA 92152-5001San DiegoUSA
  2. 2.The Living Seas, EpcotFloridaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologySouthern Methodist University, Dallas, TexasUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MississippiUSA