On the Life Ball of my fantasy stories, a particular species of delphinidae- I call them black dolphins- have evolved and advanced at least as much as humans and other intelligent races. Among other things:
- Black dolphins have a highly sophisticated language. They discuss abstract concepts, contemplate the future, and debate alternative points of view. Whether a written form exists and how it works is now the subject of another question.
- They have religion. The exact nature of their gods and how they worship are still in development.
- They have government and politics. Most pods are oligarchies. Larger pods have what we would call Ministries of Education, of State, of Natural Resources, and even Justice (yes, dolphins can commit crimes).
- They create art and fiction. Where there is a sandy bottom, they force water currents from their fins to create intricate crop-circle-like designs. Others grab stones and pieces of coral and stack them in sculptures. They are entirely satisfied with the ephemeral nature of these creations. They love to invent and tell folk-stories and fairy-tales.
- They have science and mathematics. Most black dolphins know the basic underpinnings of algebra and geometry, and the idea of the method of hypothesis -> experiment -> conclusion -> repeat.
Does all of this necessarily mean that the black dolphins have houses, stores, courts, theaters, churches/temples, conference halls, and so on?
On land, all of the humans, elves, gnomes, and so on, at the very least have villages with an assortment of wooden huts, all the way up to grand cities of stone and steel. As the species developed, so did its ability to erect structures to display that development. Did the black dolphins keep pace?
My question is specifically about my black dolphins, but I am also interested in the generic concept: Do the ideas of "being civilized" and "building structures" automatically go hand-in-hand? Does a species gain intelligence and sophistication only as a result of building things? Is it possible to have a species as advanced as we are, or even as we were ~4000-5000 years ago, and never even have any sort of enclosed space?