1. The human bro is not the only organism to woo females with the aid of trusted male allies. Male dolphins do it as well.
2. According to biologist Quincy Gibson, most male dolphins in Florida’s St. Johns River travel in close-knit duos or trios. She calls it the “dolphin wingman” concept.
3. These dolphin bromances help males take down sexual rivals and help them secure females through sometimes vicious fights.
The basic utility of these groups is to prevent other males from mating with females and also, in some cases, to impress potential mates, said Gibson, who is biologist at the University of North Florida. Not all members of a bromance are equal, either. “Usually one male tends to have a little bit more reproductive success than the other two males in the trio or than the other male if it’s just a pair,” she said.
4. But the parallels to bro culture don’t stop there! These bromances sometimes form alliances with other bromanced dolphins to protect against other groups of determined bros.
According to her team’s research, the St. Johns River population of dolphins Gibson and her team have been studying since 2011 not only has alliances between males, but also has some alliances between different groups of males.” Usually they’re forming sort of temporarily for a specific purpose, usually to either steal a female from a third alliance or to prevent their female from being stolen by a third alliance,” Gibson said. This work has been presented at conferences and is part of a dissertation but it has not been published yet, so the results are preliminary.
Janet Mann, an expert in the social behavior of dolphins and professor at Georgetown University, told BuzzFeed science that the only place this alliance-of-alliance system has been clearly shown is a single population of dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia. If confirmed, Gibson’s population would show it happens in more than one place.
5. “As far as it’s been documented so far,” Gibson said, “the only other species to do [this] are humans.”
Mann agrees. “Alliances … are found in a number of mammalian species, such as spotted hyenas and many primate species,” she said, “but alliances of alliances are exceedingly rare.”
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