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Old 2011-08-24, 19:37
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Chris Rezendes Chris Rezendes is offline
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Originally Posted by Dyldo
I remember reading somewhere that Killer Whales seemingly "play" (read: torture)with their food before they finally eat it, going so far as to keep it alive while it tosses it into the air and gnaws on it.

This is actually true. Scientists have some ideas, but nothing concrete yet.

Also, see bottlenose dolphins and their playful torture/slaughter of harbor porpoises. In this case, the porpoises don't even represent a prey item. Scientists are completely baffled by this, especially because this behavior only occurs among two populations of the bottlenose dolphins; one of the coast of Scotland and the other near Virginia. Other areas where bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises overlap are typically peaceful.

My populations biology professor a couple years back brought up this topic in class, as he studies bottlenose dolphins. The best explanation I've heard is the one that I offered in class that day- elimination of a rival competing for the same food source. Unfortunately, there are two glaring problems with that explanation. First, while there is a significant degree of overlap between the diets of the two cetaceans, it's not a 100% overlap and there's no food shortage in the areas these attacks occur. Second, in almost all parallels one can find (African lions and spotted hyenas, for example), chasing your rival out of your territory is sufficient. These dolphins don't chase the porpoises out of their territory; they pursue them to the death.

Interesting stuff.
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