What examples of convergence in higher-level complex cognitive characteristics exist in the animal kingdom? In this paper I will provide evidence that convergent intelligence has occurred in two distantly related mammalian taxa. One of these is the order Cetacea (dolphins, whales and porpoises) and the other is our own order Primates, and in particular the suborder anthropoid primates (monkeys, apes, and humans). Despite a deep evolutionary divergence, adaptation to physically dissimilar environments, and very different neuroanatomical organization, some primates and cetaceans show striking convergence in social behavior, artificial ‘language’ comprehension, and self-recognition ability. Taken together, these findings have important implications for understanding the generality and specificity of those processes that underlie cognition in different species and the nature of the evolution of intelligence.

Allman, J.M. (1999) Evolving Brains. Scientific American Library, New York.
Amsterdam, B. (1972) Mirror self-image reactions before age two. Dev. Psychobiol., 5: 297–305.
Anderson, J.R. and J.J. Roeder (1989) Responses of capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) to different conditions of mirror-image stimulation. Primates, 30: 581–587.
Anderson, S. (1969) Epimeletic behavior in a captive harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena. In Investigations on Cetacea, Vol. 1 (ed. by G. Pilleri), Brain Anatomy Institute, Berne, pp. 203–205.
Bajpai, S., and P.D. Gingerich (1998) A new Eocene archaeocete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from India and the time of origin of whales. Proc. of Nat. Acad. Sci., 95: 15464–15468.
Barnes, L.G., D.P. Domning, and C.E. Ray (1985) Status of studies on fossil marine mammals. Marine Mamm. Sci., 1: 15–53.
Barton, R.A. (1996) Neocortex size and behavioral ecology in primates. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. Series B - Biol. Sci., 263: 173–177.
Bayart, F., and J.R. Anderson (1985) Mirror-image reactions in a tool-using adult male Macaca tonkeana. Behav. Proc., 10: 219–227.
Boesch, C. (1996) The emergence of cultures among wild chimpanzees. Proc. Brit. Acad., 88:251–268.
Bromham, L., M.J. Phillips, and D. Penny (1999) Growing up with dinosaurs: Molecular dates and the mammalian radiation. Trends Ecol. Evol., 14: 113–118.
Brown, D.H., and K.S. Norris (1956) Observations of captive and wild cetaceans. J. Mammal., 37: 311–326.
Byrne, R.W., and A. Whiten (1998) Machiavellian Intelligence: Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes, and Humans. Clarendon, Oxford, UK.
Connor, R.C., M.R., Heithaus, and L.M. Barre (1999) Superalliance of bottlenose dolphins. Nature, 397: 571–572.
Connor, R.C., J. Mann, P.L. Tyack, and H. Whitehead (1998) Social evolution in toothed whales. Trends Ecol. Evol., 13: 228–232.
Connor, R.C., A.J. Read, and R. Wrangham (2000b) Male reproductive strategies and social bonds. In Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales (ed. by J. Mann, R.C. Connor, P.L. Tyack and H. Whitehead), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, pp. 247–269.
Connor, R.C., R.A. Smolker, and A.F. Richards (1992a) Dolphin alliances and coalitions. In Coalitions and Alliances in Humans and Other Animals (ed. by A. H. Harcourt and F.B.M. de Waal), Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 415–443.
Connor, R.C., R.A. Smolker, and A.F. Richards (1992b) Two levels of alliance formation among bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 89: 987–990.
Connor, R.C., R.S. Wells, J. Mann, and A.J. Read (2000a) The bottlenose dolphin: social relationships in a fission-fusion society. In Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales (ed. by J. Mann, R.C. Connor, P.L. Tyack and H. Whitehead), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, pp. 91–126.
Cooper, J.D., R.H. Miller, and J. Patterson (1990) A Trip Through Time: Principles of Historical Geology. Merrill Pub. Co., Columbus, OH.
Davis, J. (1997) Mapping The Brain. Birch Lane Press, Secaucus, NJ.
de Waal, F.B.M. (1982) Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes. Johnathan Cape, London.
de Waal, F.B.M. (2001) The Ape and The Sushimaster. Basic Books, New York.
Dunbar, R.I.M. (1992) Neocortex size as a constraint on group size in primates. J. Human Evol., 20: 469–493.
Dunbar, R.I.M (1993) Coevolution of neocortical size, group size and language in humans. Behav Brain Sci., 16: 681–735.
Dunbar, R.I.M. (1998) The social brain hypothesis. Evol. Anthropol., 6: 178–190.
Fleagle, J.G. (1988) Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Fordyce, R.E., and L.G. Barnes (1994) The evolutionary history of whales and dolphins. Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 22: 419–455.
Gallup, G.G., Jr. (1970) Chimpanzees: Self recognition. Science, 167: 86–87.
Gallup, G.G., Jr. (1997) On the rise and fall of self-conception in primates. Ann. New York Acad. Sci., 818: 73–84.
Gallup, G.G., Jr. (1998) Can animals empathize? Sci. Am., 9: 66–71.
Garey, L.J., and G. Leuba (1986) A quantitative study of neuronal and glial numerical density in the visual cortex of the bottlenose dolphin: Evidence for a specialized subarea and changes with age. J. Comp. Neurol., 247: 491–496.
Garey, L.J., E. Winkelman, and K. Brauer (1985) Golgi and Nissl studies of the visual cortex of the bottlenose dolphin. J. Comp. Neurol., 240: 305–321.
Glezer, I.I., M. Jacobs, and P. Morgane (1988) Implications of the ‘initial brain’ concept for brain evolution in Cetacea. Behav. Brain. Sci., 11: 75–116.
Godfrey, L., and K.H. Jacobs (1981). Gradual, autocatalytic, and punctuational models of hominid brain evolution: a cautionary tale. J. Human Evol., 10: 255–272.
Gould, S.J. (1983) The wisdom of Casey Stengel. Discover, March: 62–65.
Grossman, M., and M. Desposito (1996) The physiological basis of executive function and working memory. Neuroscience 2: 345–352.
Haenel, N. J. (1986) General notes on the behavioral ontogeny of Puget Sound killer whales and the occurrence of allomaternal behavior. In Behavioral Biology of Killer Whales (ed. by B. Kirkevold and J. S Lockard), Alan R. Liss, New York, pp. 285–300.
Hain, J.H.W., G.R. Cater, S.D. Kraus, C.A. Mayo, and H.E. Winn (1982) Feeding behaviour of the humpback whale, Megaptera novaengliae, in the western North Atlantic. Fish. Bull., 80: 259–268.
Heimlich-Boran, J.R., and S.L. Heimlich-Boran (in press). Social learning in cetaceans: hunting, hearing and hierarchies. Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond., 73.
Herman, L.M. (1986) Cognition and language competencies of bottlenosed dolphins. In Dolphin Cognition and Behavior: A Comparative Approach (ed. by R. J. Schusterman, J.A. Thomas and F.G. Wood), Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 221–252.
Holloway, R.L. (1983) Human brain evolution: a search for units, models and synthesis. Can. J. Anthropol., 3: 215–230.
Huffman, M.A. (1996) Acquisition of innovative cultural behaviors in non-human primates: A case study of stone handling, a socially transmitted behavior in Japanese macaques. In Social Learning in Animals: The Roots of Culture, (ed. by C.M. Heyes and B.G. Galef), Academic Press, New York, pp. 267–289.
Hyatt, C.W. (1998) Responses of gibbons (Hylobates lar) to their mirror images. Am. J. Primatol., 45:30–311.
Jerison, H.J. (1973) Evolution of the Brain and Intelligence. Academic Press, New York.
Johnson, C.M., and K.S. Norris (1994) Social Behavior. In The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin (ed. by K.S. Norris, B. Wursig, R.S. Wells and M. Wursig), University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, pp. 243–286.
Jurasz, C.M., and V.P. Jurasc (1979) Feeding modes of the humpback whale, Megaptera novaengliae, in southeast Alaska. Sci. Rep. Whales Res. Inst. Tokyo, 31: 69–83.
Kandel, E.R., J.H. Schwartz, and T.M. Jessell (1991) Principles of Neural Science. McGraw-Hill, New York.
Kappelman, J. (1996) The evolution of body mass and relative brain size in fossil hominids. J. Human Evol., 30: 243–276.
Keenan, J.P., M. Wheeler, G.G. Gallup, Jr., and A. Pascual-Leone (2000) Self-awareness and the right prefrontal cortex. Trends Cog. Sci., 4: 338–344.
Kircher, T.T.J., C. Senior, M.L. Phillips, S. Rabe-Hesketh, P.J. Benson, E.T. Bullmore, M. Brammer, A. Simmons, M. Bartels, and A.D. David (2001) Recognizing one’s own face. Cognition, 78: B1–B15.
Ladygina, T.F., A.M. Mass, and A.Ya. Supin (1978) Multiple sensory projections in the dolphin cerebral cortex. Zh. Vyssh. Nerv.Deiat., 28: 1047–1054.
Leatherwood, S. (1975) Some observations of feeding behavior of bottlenosed dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the northern Gulf of Mexico and (Tursiops gilli) off southern California, Baja, California, and Nayarit, Mexico. Mar. Fish. Rev., 37: 10–16.
Lethmate, J., and G. Ducker (1973) Self-recognition by orangutans and some other primates. Z. Tierpsychol., 33: 248–269.
Marino, L. (1996) What can dolphins tell us about primate evolution? Evol. Anthropol., 5: 81–85.
Marino, L. (1998) A comparison of encephalization between odontocete cetaceans and anthropoid primates. Brain Behav. Evol., 51: 230–238.
Marino, L. (2000) Turning the empirical corner on Fi: the probability of complex intelligence. In Bioastronomy ’99: A New Era in Bioastronomy (ed. by G. Lemarchand and K.J. Meech), Astronom. Soc. Pacific, San Francisco, CA, pp. 431–435.
Marino, L., M.D. Uhen, B. Frohlich, J.M. Aldag, C. Blane, D. Bohaska, and F.C. Whitmore, Jr., (2000) Endocranial volume of mid-late Eocene archaeocetes (Order: Cetacea) revealed by computed tomography: implications for cetacean brain evolution. J. Mamm. Evol., 7: 81–94.
McGrew, W.C. (1992) Chimpanzee material culture: Implications for human evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Miller, B.L., W.W. Seeley, P. Mychack, H.J. Rosen, I. Mena, and K. Boone (2001) Neuroanatomy of the self-evidence from patients from frontotemporal dementia. Neurology, 57: 817–821.
Morgane P. J., M.S. Jacobs, and W.L. MacFarland (1980) The anatomy of the brain of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Surface configurations of the telencephalon of the bottlenose dolphin with comparative anatomical observations in four other cetacean species. Brain Res. Bull., 5: 1–107.
Mukhametov, L.M. (1984) Sleep in marine mammals. Exper. Brain Res. Suppl., 8: 227–238.
Napier, J., and P. Napier (1985) The Natural History of the Primates. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Nicolson, N.A. (1986) Infants, mothers, and other females. In Primate Societies (ed. by B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham and T.T. Struhsaker), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, pp. 330–342.
Parker, S.T., R.W. Mitchell, and M.L. Boccia (1994) Self-awareness in Animals and Humans: Developmental Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Patterson F.G. (1984) Self-recognition by Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). (Newsletter published by The Gorilla Foundation), 7: 2–3.
Patterson, F.G., and R.H. Cohn (1994) Self-recognition and self-awareness in lowland gorillas. In Self-awareness in Animals and Humans: Developmental Perspectives (ed. by S.T. Parker, R.W. Mitchell and M.L. Boccia), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 273–290.
Peichl, L., G. Behrmann, and R.H. Kroger (2001) For whales and seals the ocean is not blue: a visual pigment loss in marine mammals. Eur. J. Neurosci., 13: 1520–1528.
Pepperberg, I.M. (1999) The Alex Studies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Pepperberg, I.M., S.E. Garcia, E.C. Jackson, and S. Marconi (1995) Mirror use by African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus). J. Comp. Psychol., 109: 182–195.
Petricig, R.O. (1993) Diel patterns of strand-feeding behavior by bottlenose dolphins in South Carolina salt marshes. Abstract in Tenth Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Galveston, TX.
Piaget, J. (1952) The Origins of Intelligence in Children. Norton, New York.
Popov, V.V., T.F. Ladygina, and A.Ya. Supin (1986) Evoked potentials of the auditory cortex of the porpoise, Phocoena phocoena. J. Comp. Physiol., 158: 705–711.
Povinelli, D.J. (1989) Failure to find self-recognition in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in contrast to their use of mirror cues to discover hidden food. J. Comp. Psychol., 103: 122–131.
Povinelli, D.J. (1993) Reconstructing the evolution of mind. Am. Psychol., 48: 493–509.
Povinelli, D.J. (1998) Can animals empathize? Sci. Am., 9: 67–75.
Povinelli, D.J., and J.G.H. Cant (1995) Arboreal clambering and the evolution of self-conception. Quart. Rev. Bio., 70: 393–421.
Povinelli, D.J., G.G. Gallup Jr., T.J. Eddy, D.T. Bierschwale, M.C. Engstrom, H.K. Perilloux, and I.B. Toxopeus (1997) Chimpanzees recognize themselves in mirrors. Anim. Behav., 53: 1083–1088.
Povinelli, D.J., A.B. Rulf, K. Landau, and D.T. Bierschwale (1993) Self-recognition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): distribution, ontogeny and patterns of emergence. J. Comp. Psychol., 107: 347–372.
Premack, D. (1976) Intelligence in Ape and Man. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., Mahwah, NJ.
Premack, D., and G. Woodruff (1978) Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? Behav. Brain. Sci., 1: 515–526.
Reiss, D., and L. Marino (2001) Mirror self recognition in the bottlenose dolphin: a case of cognitive convergence. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 98: 5937–5942.
Ridgway, S.H. (1990) The central nervous system of the bottlenose dolphin. In The Bottlenose Dolphin (ed. by S. Leatherwood and R. Reeves), Academic Press, San Diego CA, pp. 69–97.
Ridley, M. (1993) Evolution. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Inc., Oxford, UK.
Rowe, A.D., P.R. Bullock, C.E. Polkey, and R.G. Morris (2001) ‘Theory of mind’ impairments and their relationship to executive functioning following frontal lobe excisions. Brain, 124: 600–616.
Savage-Rumbaugh, E.S., J. Murphy, R.A. Sevcik, K. Brakke, S. Williams, and D.M. Rumbaugh (1993) Language comprehension in ape and child. Mono. Soc. Res. Child Devel. Ser. No. 233, Vol. 58, Nos. 3–4.
Sawaguchi, T. (1992) The size of the neocortex in relation to ecology and social-structure in monkeys and apes. Folia Primat., 58: 131–145.
Sawaguchi, T., and H. Kudo (1990) Neocortical development and social structure in primates. Primates, 31: 283–289.
Smolker, R., A., A.F. Richards, R.C. Connor, and J.W. Pepper (1992) Sex differences in patterns of association among Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins. Behaviour, 123: 38–69.
Smolker, R.A., A.F. Richards, R.C. Connor, J. Mann, and P. Berggren (1997) Sponge-carrying by Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins: possible tool use by a delphinid. Ethology, 103: 454–465.
Sokolov, V.E., T.F. Ladygina, and A.Ya. Supin (1972) Localization of sensory zones in the dolphin’s cerebral cortex. Proc.Acad. Sci. USSR, 202: 490–493.
Stone V.E., S. Baron-Cohen, and R.T. Knight (1998) Frontal lobe contributions to theory of mind. J. Cogn. Neurosci., 10: 640–656.
Stuss, D.T. (1991) Self, awareness and the frontal lobes: a neuropsychological perspective. In The Self: Interdisciplinary Approaches (ed. by J. Strauss and G.R. Goethals), Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 255–278.
Stuss, D.T., and M.P. Alexander (2000) Executive functions and the frontal lobes: a conceptual view. Psych. Res. Psych. Forsch., 63: 289–298.
Stuss, D.T., G.G. Gallup, Jr., and M.P. Alexander (2001) The frontal lobes are necessary for ‘theory of mind’. Brain, 124: 279–286.
Suarez, S.D., and G.G. Gallup, Jr. (1986) Social responding to mirrors in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta): Effects of changing mirror location. Am. J. Primatol., 11: 239–244.
Supin, A.Ya., L.M. Mukhametov, T.F. Ladygina, V.V. Popov, A.M. Mass, and I.G. Polvakova (1978) Electrophysiological study of the dolphin brain. Nauka Press, Moscow, pp. 29–85.
Thewissen, J.G.M. (1998) Cetacean origins: Evolutionary turmoil during the invasion of the oceans. In The Emergence of Whales (ed. by J. G.M. Thewissen), Plenum Press, New York, pp. 451–464.
Tobias, P. (1971) The Brain in Hominid Evolution. Columbia University Press, New York.
Walraven, V., L. van Elsacker, and R. Verheyen (1995) Reactions of a group of pygmy chimpanzees to their mirror images: Evidence of self-recognition. Primates, 36: 145–150.
Watts, D.P. (1998) Coalitionary mate guarding by male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 44: 43.
Wells, R. (1991)Bringing up baby. Nat. Hist., Aug.: 56–62.
White Miles, H.L. (1994) Me Chantek: the development of self-awareness in a signing orangutan. In Self-awareness in Animals and Humans: Developmental Perspectives (ed. by S.T. Parker, R.W. Mitchell and M.L. Boccia), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 254–272.
Whitehead, H. (1996) Babysitting, dive synchrony, and indications of alloparental care in sperm whales. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 38: 237–244.
Whitehead, H. (1998) Cultural selection and genetic diversity in matrilineal whales. Science, 282: 1708–1711.
Wrangham, R.W., and D. Peterson (1996) Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Wursig, B. (1978) Occurrence and group organization of Atlantic bottlenose porpoises (Tursiops truncatus) in an Argentine Bay. Biol. Bull., 154: 348–359.
Wursig, B., and M. Wursig (1980) Behavior and ecology of the dusky dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obscurus, in the South Atlantic. Fish. Bull., 77: 871–890.
Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.
You do not currently have access to this content.