virus: Re: Inter-species memetic transfer

Glenn Grant (pawn@CAM.ORG)
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 14:41:37 -0500 (EST)

>From: Dave Pape <> said,

>I read an anecdotal account of dolphins at a zoo modelling human behaviour:
>Man stands at huge window in on underwater world of the Dolphin Tank. He's
>smoking a cigarette as he looks at a young dolhpin. He exhales a cloud of
>Young dolphin swims to mother, takes a mouthful of milk. Swims back to
>window, and exhales a white cloud of milk... smoke?
>Would this classify as inter-species memetic transfer?

Sounds like it to me.

There's a fine dolphin documentary on The Learning Channel here in North
America, memorably hosted by Robin Williams; at one point, Williams stands
in the window of a dolphin tank and plays with a dolphin trained to
immitate humans - very possibly the same dolphin you mentioned. The
documentary says that dolphins have at least a rudimentary language, and
even individual names they use among themselves, so memes are definitely
flying around out there in dolphin society.

Memetic transfers within non-human species are fairly well documented.
Seasonally-changing songs are transferred from whale to whale around the
planet. Gorillas trained in ASL will teach it to their children.
Chimpanzees teach each other simple technologies they've invented - such as
fishing for ants by poking sticks into ant-hills.

I've even heard it suggested that humans sometimes transmit actual
information with that annoying jibbering they constantly make...


"Freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom!" - Anonymous ant, quoted in "The
Author of the Acacia Seeds..." by Ursula LeGuin (and also quoted in the
"Homer rides the Space Shuttle" episode of _The Simpsons_).

-----------------------Glenn Grant-----------------------
Web: <>
"That which does not kill us makes us stranger."
-- Trevor Goodchild