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Source: Don Ramey Logan/Wikimedia

Scientists Just Discovered That Blue Whales Are Even Smarter Than We Once Believed

By Dennis Matthew Livesey

For most of the animal kingdom, survival is a hardwired instinct — reflexive action without thought. Genetic adaptation can be passed down through generations, but  learned behavior is a trait seen only in animals of higher intelligence. We've known for years that whales display this type of intelligence.

A new study has given scientists insight into previously unknown behavior in whales.

When feeding, blue whales are known for performing a type of rolling ballet, executing barrel rolls in between feeding lunges. Scientists noticed a natural tendency to favor the right side, which is known as laterality, or "handedness." Just as humans are right- or left-handed, whales show a preference for one side or the other. 

Since we observe whales mostly at the surface, we knew little about their feeding habits at greater depths.