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Killer Whales Show Similar Personality Traits to Humans and Primates

Killer whales are the most powerful predators living in the ocean that lives up to 50 to 90 years in the wild / Photo by Getty Images

 

Whales are the largest creatures living on this planet and are considered the world's most powerful predators. They belong to the family of cetacea which means they are aquatic mammals. In fact, they are more closely related to humans than fish.

One of the most popular whales is the killer whale also called orcas. According to National Geographic Kids, this marine mammal lives up to 50 to 90 years in the wild. They survive through underwater through fishes and fellow aquatic mammals such as seals, sea lions, sharks and even other types of whales. On average, they can consume about 227 kilograms of food a day. 

Additionally, killer whales are known to have many different hunting techniques. They are often seen and hunt in family groups, just like a pack of wolves do. Sometimes, they will collaborate to kill a prey. They will chase, bite and wear it down until the prey weakens so they can feast on it. Another interesting fact about killer whales is they have the ability to sneak up on and attack their prey through their color pattern. They can also be recognized easily through their distinctive black-and-white coloring. 

Killer whales are also intelligent marine mammals. However, humans are continuously using them for entertainment and survival for a long time now. According to Whale and Dolphin Conservation, they have been kept in captivity since 1961. Currently, there are at least 71 killer whales in captivity, 37 of those are captured in the wild while 34 are captive-born. They are located in at least 14 marine parks in eight different countries such as South America, Japan, and China. 

The Relationship Between Whales and Humans

Indeed, human activities are jeopardizing the future of whales until now. Human wastes continue to destruct their habitats and pollute their waters. They are also being hunted in several parts of the world primarily as a source of food. And because of these kinds of activities happening several decades now, many species of whales are became endangered.

However, the relationship between humans and whales doesn't stop there. In fact, we have a number of similarities to them. Not only they are recognized as mammals, but they can also create a variety of languages and behaviors just like humans can do. They can also feed milk to their young, too. According to the Whale-World, they are social creatures. They mostly produce sounds to communicate with others in their group. Humans and whales are both affectionate. For instance, whales can be seen caressing each other just like what human couples do. 

Moreover, whales are also found to possess feelings, self-awareness and high-level cognitive powers just like humans and chimpanzees. In fact, their capacities could be even more ancient than our own. In an article by WIRED, evolutionary neurobiologist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Lori Marino said: "If an alien came down anytime prior to about 1.5 million years ago to communicate with the 'brainiest' animals on Earth, they would have tripped over our own ancestors and headed straight for the oceans to converse with the dolphins." 

 

Whales have similarities to humans like they can like they can feed milk to their young, can produce sounds to communicate and possesses feelings / Photo by Getty Images

 

Some Killer Whale Traits Same as Humans and Primates

A recent study conducted by Yulán Úbeda, Sara Ortín, Judy St. Leger, Miquel Llorente, and Javier Almunia entitled "Personality in captive killer whales (Orcinus orca): A rating approach based on the five-factor model," showed us that they are more similarities of whales and humans. 

In an article by the Science Daily, the researchers revealed that there are common personality traits of killer whales to both humans and chimpanzees. For instance, these marine mammals are similar for the extraversion factor such as being gregarious, playful, and sociable; conscientiousness such as being stubborn, constant, and protective; and agreeableness such as being patient, peaceable and not bullying. 

To prove this, the researchers analyzed 24 captive killer whales' personality traits at the Loro Parque zoo in Tenerife, Spain and SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego. This study was participated by trainers and other staff, in which they are given surveys to rank each animal on a list of 38 personality traits. These traits include independence, playfulness, stubbornness, sensitivity, bravery, and protectiveness. The data were then analyzed and compared with previous studies. Yulán Úbeda, the lead researcher from the University of Girona in Spain said "This is the first study to examine the personality traits of killer whales and how they relate to us and other primates. These similar personality traits may have developed because they were necessary to form complex social interactions in tightly knit groups that we see in killer whales, humans, and other primates."

Moreover, these findings just show some evolutionary convergence required for complex social interactions, that can be seen to both killer whales and primates. Killer whales can live up to 90 years that's why they have mastered advanced communication skills and cooperation throughout their lifetime. However, a previous study revealed that those killer whales in captivity can exhibit increasing neuroticism and aggression. Physical changes can also be observed such as dorsal fin collapse.

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