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laterality, lateralization, bottlenose dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, eye use


Laterality of eye use has been increasingly studied in cetaceans. Research supports that many cetacean species keep prey on the right side while feeding and preferentially view unfamiliar objects with the right eye. In contrast, the left eye has been used more by calves while in close proximity to their mothers. Despite some discrepancies across and within species, laterality of eye use generally indicates functional specialization of brain hemispheres in cetaceans. The present study aimed to examine laterality of eye use in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) under managed care. Subjects were video-recorded through an underwater window while viewing two different stimuli, one predictable and static and the other unpredictable and moving. Bottlenose dolphins displayed an overall right-eye preference, especially while viewing the unpredictable, moving stimulus. Rough-toothed dolphins did not display eye preference while viewing stimuli. No significant correlations between degree of laterality and behavioral interest in the stimuli were found. Only for bottlenose dolphins were the degree of laterality and curiosity ratings correlated. This study extends research on cetacean lateralization to a species not extensively examined and to stimuli that varied in movement and degree of predictability. Further research is needed to make conclusions regarding lateralization in cetaceans.


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Lilley, M. K, de Vere, A. J, & Yeater, D. B. (2020). Laterality of Eye Use by Bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) and Rough-toothed (Steno bredanensis) Dolphins While Viewing Predictable and Unpredictable Stimuli. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 33.

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