Dolphins form groups like humans: Swiss study

A study carried out by the University of Zurich in Shark Bay, Australia found that male dolphins bond with one another in ways that are almost as complex as humans.

Dolphins form groups like humans: Swiss study
Ville Felvin (File)

A joint team of researchers from the United States, Australia and the University of Zurich’s Anthropological Institute & Museum built on studies from the 1990s which found that two to three males would form an alliance to steal females from a group for mating purposes.

Interested in the way that these renegade dolphins formed their teams, researchers looked at the structure of these male relationships.

They found that dolphins have exceedingly complex bonds with one another, and that their relationships are not based on an obvious group structure. In this way, they are comparable only with humans.

The dolphins’ behaviour was also likened to that of chimpanzees, which are also known to forge alliances.

But whereas chimps develop alliances to defend territories from attack by members of the same species, the dolphins were bonding to defend their females.

It was previously thought that male dolphins would only come together for the mating season, but the study has shown that this is not in fact the case.

“Our study shows for the first time that the social structure and associated behavior of dolphins is unique in the animal kingdom,” University of Zurich’s Michael Krützen said in a statement.

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University locks down after shooting false alarm

About 5,000 students and teachers at a Zurich university were told to lock themselves in their classrooms during a security alert on Thursday prompted by a false alarm of a shooting on campus.

University locks down after shooting false alarm
The Toni campus of the Z├╝rcher Hochschule der Kunste (Zurich University of the Arts). Photo: ZHdK

Police deployed about 100 officers in riot gear to the Toni campus of Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), which includes rooms used by Zurich University of Applied Sciences, but concluded that there was no danger.
They were alerted to an incident at 8:45am, at the same time as an alarm went off on campus telling students to find a safe place to hide, a police statement said.
Le Matin newspaper said a student had contacted the paper to report rumours of a shooting.
"Stay in the rooms or search for a locked room. Lock the doors and windows," said the message relayed around the university in German and English, according to videos posted by students on social media.
"Look for the safe part of the room. Remain close to the floor and keep calm. Wait for further information."
Officers, many of them heavily armed, secured the building and went from room to room evacuating students, police and a witness said.
The alarm was finally lifted shortly before noon, according to police, which said there was no danger and students had been asked to leave the building.
Investigations are under way into what caused the alarm.