Live Science reported this week that researchers use a Pavlovian sort of test where two dolphins pressed a paddle to get a fish. When they got it right, the female dolphin reportedly gave “victory squeals.” The dolphins were able to keep this up for 15 days without sleep with no negative effect on performance.
Note to XBox: Look at the untapped dolphin market. You’re welcome.
So, how did they do it? They slept with half their brains. That’s right: A portion of their brains sleep while the rest keeps on pressing paddles or whatever.
Imagine what you could get done in a day if you could work or carpool or help with homework and sleep at the time. Lord knows I tried it at the Cub Scouts’ Pinewood Derby, year after year, but alas.
Dolphins have developed the ability to simultaneously sleep and be constantly vigiliant so they can keep an eye out for predators. Also, it keeps them from drowning.
Humans would probably use this incredible power to work on presentations for work, attend piano recitals and watch round-the-clock marathons of “Mad Men,” so perhaps that’s why we aren’t quite as evolved as dolphins when it comes to sleep.
I know that if I could have sleep-walked through my babies’ night-feedings, I wouldn’t have been so sleep deprived that I brought home paprika from the supermarket every week for eight weeks. (It was Parmesan cheese for my other baby. I didn’t have a third baby because my kitchen didn’t have the room.)
So congratulations, dolphins, for evolving mammalhood with something so useful. Now, please bottle it and sell it in the baby aisle at Target.