PLAYING PUZZLES WITH DOLPHINS promises to be a wonderfully informative and entertaining book on how dolphins think, revealing the vast cognitive ability of so many of our animal companions. A book for all readers interested in the latest research on animal intelligence.

by Kelly Jaakkola, Ph.D.
Anchor/Doubleday, 2025
(via The Martell Agency)

Perhaps more than any other wild creature, we have long been dazzled by dolphin intelligence and their affecting level of interaction with humans. But what is the nature and dimension of dolphin intelligence? Do they count? Do they have language or anything like it? Can they imitate behavior (even if blindfolded)? How do they coordinate their communication and cooperation?

Writing with insight and wit, Jaakkola will reveal the crucial role of puzzles and games for both researching and challenging dolphins’ minds and take readers behind the scenes of her own research on dolphin cognition to show the logic of how we know what we know, as well as the complexity, humor, and pure thrill that comes from running creative experiments with animals who don’t know your intended script and very clearly have minds of their own. The new information presented enhances our understanding of the inner life of these special creatures, as they actually exist and can thrive in nature, not just in the popular imagination.

Kelly Jaakkola is a cognitive psychologist, marine mammal scientist, and Director of Research for DRC. She earned her Masters degree in Psychology from Emory University, where she began her career studying cognition in chimpanzees and human children and received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from MIT. Her past research includes studies on number concepts, object permanence, imitation, and communication in dolphins, chimpanzees, and human children. Her current work focuses on dolphin cognition, communication, and welfare.

Dr. Jaakkola’s research has been published in numerous international scientific journals and book chapters, and her work on dolphin cognition has received worldwide coverage in newspapers, magazine articles, books, and television. She has taught courses on human and animal cognition at several colleges and chairs the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.

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