Research Shows Whales Have Human "Spindle" Brain Cells

Humpback_2 A spray of white mist explodes as a humpback whale breaks the water's surface not far from a
whale watching boat.

New research has shown that Humpback whales – the ones most famously known for their hauntingly beautiful Whale Song – contain brain cells called “spindle cells”, which until now had only been seen in the brains of great apes (including humans). They are thought to be responsible for advanced cognitive functions including learning, remembering and recognizing.

This discovery lends even more credence to the assumption that these whales may lead far richer lives – and have far more in common with us - than we have ever imagined.

And yet, against the backdrop of this revelation, the Japanese whaling fleet has set out to embark on a whaling program targeting these incredible creatures who we are only just beginning to understand. Despite a global ban on commercial whaling, Japan uses “self-allocated quotas” to kill whales for “scientific” purposes. Not to mention that the world’s whales are already in danger of being struck by ships or entangled in fishing gear, and pollution and global warming are forever changing their ocean habitat.

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And yet, against the backdrop of this revelation, the Japanese whaling fleet has set out to embark on a whaling program targeting these incredible creatures who we are only just beginning to understand. Despite a global ban on commercial whaling, Japan uses “self-allocated quotas” to kill whales for “scientific” purposes. Not to mention that the world’s whales are already in danger of being struck by ships or entangled in fishing gear, and pollution and global warming are forever changing their ocean habitat.

Anyone who has ever seen or heard the humpback knows that there is more going on there than we have yet to understand. Whether humpbacks have greater intelligence and emotional capacity than we thought doesn't change the fact that there is no humane way to kill a whale -- they suffer for a long time before dying at the hands of human cruelty. But maybe being able to relate to their suffering will help us fight even hard to end the horrific killing.

Read related articles on:
Greenpeace
Japundit
Gadling
CNN
Reuters
New Scientist

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