Dolphins are almost as clever as people and should be given human status, according to a zoologist at Emory University.
Lori Marino used MRI scans to compare dolphin brains with those of primates, and concluded that they are more intelligent than chimpanzees.
Corrected for body size, dolphins have larger brains than any primates except man, and the same surface folds found in human brains. They also have a cerebral cortex and neocortex that approach the size of those found in humans.
Previous studies have shown that dolphins can recognise themselves in mirrors and even learn a simple symbol-based language. The also have distinct personalities and can cooperate and learn from each other.
The researchers argue that it is morally wrong to keep dolphins in captivity or to kill them, either for food or by accident. It has been estimated that as many as 300,000 are killed each year as a byproduct of fishing.