According to a recently published study, researchers observed an extremely unusual behavior among Australian humpback dolphins. The male dolphins would team up to collect marine sponges and offer them to the females.

Photo credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Researchers discovered something extremely unusual after examining the behavior of Australian humpback dolphins for over ten years. Male dolphins would collect and offer the females marine sponges in order to impress them. According to the research, “the use of objects in sexual displays by non-human mammals is rare.”

The research, which was published in the Scientific Reports by a team of Australian and Swiss researchers, observed the ritual of presenting, or even throwing the sponges at the females. Lead researcher Simon Allen stated: “Here we have some of the most socially complex animals on the planet using sponges, not as a foraging tool but as a gift, a display of his quality or perhaps even as a threat in the behavioral contexts of socializing and mating.”

The researchers also noticed that the males tended to team up, or use a ‘wingman’, in order to attract the females or control their movements. “The formation of alliances between adult males for the purposes of coercing females is uncommon, since mating success cannot be shared,” stated researcher Stephanie King.