Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Stan A. Kuczaj

Advisor Department



This thesis takes a look at the behavioral lateralization of handedness present or not present within the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) population housed at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences. Dolphins and humans share similar brain structures in that the brain is split into hemispheres that allow an individual to present behaviorally dominate features on different sides of their body. This type of split brain structure allows for a phenomenon known as handedness, where one hand presents dominant motor control. For dolphins, their “hand” is their pectoral fin. This thesis looked at a managed care population to investigate the possibility of a dominant pectoral fin when engaging in contact behaviors or carrying objects. The statistics seemed to show a more even distribution of ambidextrousness than dominance, which still offers insight into their unconscious behaviors.