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The Long-beaked common dolphin (scientific name: Delphinus capensis) is one of two species of common dolphin. Known for its long beak, this dolphin has the most teeth out of any dolphin in the world. Both species of common dolphin are extremely colorful, however, the long-beaked common is typically less brightly colored. In addition to slightly different coloring, beak size, and other physical characteristics; the long-beaked common dolphin differs from the short-beaked in that it prefers more shallow, warmer waters. Also, the long-beaked common dolphin is less abundant than the short-beaked common dolphin.

A marine mammal, the Long-beaked common dolphin is a member of the family Delphinidae, part of the order of cetaceans. Thie species name, capensis, was derived from the location of the original specimen for this dolphin, being found on the Cape of Good Hope in the early 1800s.

Long-beaked common dolphins have a rounded melon, moderately long beak, and a sleek but robust body with a high, pointed, falcate dorsal fin located in the mid portion of the back. This species can be identified by its distinct bright contrasting coloration patterns. There is a dull yellow/tan thoracic panel between the dark cape and white ventral patch forward of the dorsal fin. The bold coloration forms a crisscrossing hourglass pattern below the dark saddle, and a lighter gray area extends up to the tail stock.

Long-beaked common dolphins usually occur in sizable social groups ranging from 100 to 500 individuals, but have been occasionally seen in larger herds of thousands of individuals. These large schools are believed to consist of smaller sub-groups of 10 to 30 animals that are possibly related or separated by age and/or sex.

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© Encyclopedia of Earth; Encyclopedia of Life

Supplier: C. Michael Hogan

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