In the process of discovering why dolphins are so adorably intelligent, scientists found they share a collection of genes very similar to the ones suspected to play a role in horrible mental illnesses!
Errrr, yay for science?
The genes in question have been found to be involved in serious mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. This is important for two reasons: One, it means that dolphins may suffer from versions of these ailments. That would indicate that these diseases are an unavoidable result of evolving to be more intelligent. It gives us a better line on these diseases. It also opens up a few questions. Why, precisely, do animals that evolve higher intelligence become at increased risk for mental illness? Is it because our central nervous systems are more complex?
It also means that dolphins with these conditions can be found and observed.
And two, it helps explain the wide variety of terrifying and awful things dolphins actually get up to. Seriously, dolphins are awful. That majestic creature leaping out of the water for a fish is likely a baby killer, or possibly a gang rapist. And he won’t be shy about raping you, if you get close enough.
Of course, part of that is probably that they’re a freaking dolphin and thus a predator, and we’re just anthropomorphizing them because they’re cute. Cute things can’t possibly be evil!
image courtesy cheetah100 on Flickr