Dolphins are marine mammals closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from 1.2 m (4 ft) and 40 kg (90 lb) (Maui's dolphin), up to 9.5 m (30 ft) and 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons) (the orca or killer whale). They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, eating mostly fish and squid. The familyDelphinidae is the largest in the Cetacean order, and evolved relatively recently, about ten million years ago, during the Miocene. Dolphins are among the most intelligent animals, and their often friendly appearance, an artifact of the "smile" of their mouthline, and seemingly playful attitude have made them very popular in human culture.
The orderCetacea (pron.: /sɨˈteɪʃⁱə/) includes the marine mammals commonly known as whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Cetus is Latin and is used in biological names to mean "whale"; its original meaning, "large sea animal", was more general. It comes from Ancient Greekκῆτος (kētos), meaning "whale" or "any huge fish or sea monster". In Greek mythology, the monster Perseus defeated was called Ceto, which is depicted by the constellation of Cetus. Cetology is the branch of marine science associated with the study of cetaceans.