Human-Dolphin Foundation

Dr. John C. Lilly, Toni Lilly, and Burgess Merideth created the Human/Dolphin Foundation. The desire was to communicate with dolphins, and Project JANUS (1980-1985) was formed.

The Team consisted of Dr. John Lilly, Toni Lilly, Barbara Clarke, John Kert, Tom Fitz, Jennifer Yankee, Ed Ellsworth, Martha Spence and others. There were many additional volunteers as well.

Our Goal was to create a forty whistle-word vocabulary with the dolphins, which was accomplished. Example: “Joe go through channel”

We also learned that digitized human speech is similar to dolphin ultrasound, and investigated that as a communication channel.

The JANUS software emulated dolphin whistles. It was easier for us to hear these lower-range acoustics. The dolphin communication that occurs in ultrasound clicks (up to 200 KHz) is too high for us to perceive. The JANUS whistles named movements and objects in the dolphins environment.

I first met Dr. John C. Lilly in 1979 at a workshop in Pasadena. I had been reading his books since my formative years. John was just putting together Project JANUS in a GMC stepvan. JANUS stood for Joint Analog Numerical Understanding System, a description of the computer and hardware system. Project JANUS was a dolphin communication research endeavor of the Human/Dolphin Foundation. Research equipment included amplifiers, tape recorders, custom signal analyzer, tone generator, Apple II and Digital Equipment PDP 11/04 computers.


Project JANUS lab in a GMC stepvan on a Marine/World USA back lot

This equipment and software was all utilized by John Lilly and a team of intelligent, dedicated volunteers. Besides the van, with instrumentation at poolside, there was a container that was converted into an office and an isolation tank room with shower.

7 Replies to “Human-Dolphin Foundation”

  1. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.

  2. We just couldnt leave your website before saying that we really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!

  3. Hello Mr. Ellsworth,

    Members of the Janus team used to visit my computer store in Belmont, as did the DeMetrios family. Do you recall a computer programmer named Francis Jeffries?

  4. I was at Costa Careyes, Mexico with some others from the foundation.
    (aka Bo Cederquist) Just checking in to see how everyone’s doing these days.

Comments are closed.