NewsElephants prove abstract thinking by using names for each other

Elephants prove abstract thinking by using names for each other

Elephants address each other by name
Elephants address each other by name
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7:37 AM EDT, June 11, 2024

According to research based on the observation of wild elephant herds in Kenya, these animals use unique names for each individual when addressing each other. "The evidence provided here that elephants use non-imitative sounds to label others indicates they have the ability for abstract thought," emphasized research leader Prof. George Wittemyer in an article published on Monday in the scientific journal "Nature."

"Not only shows that elephants use specific vocalisations for each individual, but that they recognise and react to a call addressed to them while ignoring those addressed to others," said Michael Pardo, a biologist from Colorado State University.

Observation of the elephants was conducted over many years. It was carried out from 1986 to 2022 and involved analyzing the rumbles of African elephant females (Loxodonta africana) and their offspring. The study covered areas of Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya and the Samburu and Buffalo Springs reserves in the northern part of the country.

Extraordinary discovery by scientists: Elephants address each other by name

Until now, it was believed that only two species of animals addressed each other by name: bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and orange-fronted parakeets (Eupsittula canicularis). These species communicate with each other by mimicking the voice of the caller.

However, biologists have now made a discovery. Biologists distinguished 469 contacts between elephants, of which 101 were the senders of messages, and 117 were the recipients.

The study authors emphasize the uniqueness of communication among elephants. Two individuals address each other using a specific signal. Other elephants do not necessarily use the same name for the same member in the herd.

The elephant being addressed could clearly distinguish which call was directed at it and ignored those directed at others. Additionally, elephants can use grunts in distance communication. This skill is not easy and takes many years to learn.

The study conducted by scientists indicates that, as emphasized by its head, Prof. George Wittemyer, "they have the ability for abstract thought."

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