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Mar 7, 2013 5:10 PM by NBC News

Scientists: Dolphins use names

There are a few famous dolphin names you may have heard of, such as the TV-star "Flipper", but researchers just discovered bottlenose dolphins actually call out to each other by name.

Out in the pristine waters of Sarasota Bay, Florida, scientists from Mote Marine Lab have spent the past 30 years studying the local bottlenose dolphins, and they noticed something interesting -- these mammals would communicate to one another using distinctive whistles.

They soon found these were not random noises.

These whistles actually turned out to be names. "They're abstract names which is unheard of in the animal kingdom beyond people," explains Dr. Randall Wells.

This report was just published a few weeks ago.

The scientists discovered bottlenose dolphins come up with their own names when they're very young.

"These animals will call another individual's name to get their attention. So they not only understand they have an identity but they understand the other animal's identity and they use that through communication," Wells says.

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