Monday, April 14, 2014

I Sleep With One Eye Open At Night

On This Edition Of Cool Animals:
Dolphins.


For humans and other land mammals sleep involves complete or partial unconsciousness. But what if I told you this wasn't the case for dolphins (and other cetaceans, like orcas and whales). Instead these animals undergo "unihemispheric slow-wave sleep" (ooh fancy words).

When it's time for a dolphin to go to sleep it'll close one eye and shut down the opposite hemisphere of the brain, the left eye being controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain; because we all know that the half the brain controls the opposite side of the body right. During this time the side of the brain that is awake controls the breathing functions and monitors what's going on in the environment. Within a 24-hour period the dolphin switches the eyes every 4 hours.

Many scientists believe dolphins have evolved this way they would drown if they didn't keep half their brain active because they need breath consciously, this type of sleep also allows the dolphins to keep an eye out for danger literally and they also can control muscle movement which helps them maintain a warm body temperature in the chilly ocean.

flying dolphin
Did you know: the dolphin has an partially unfused neck vertebrae which means they can turn their head a 180 degrees. 
Imagine a dolphin in a horror movie oh my. 
horror movie dolphin

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