Surprising Discovery: Elephants May Be The First Non-human Animal To Call Each Other By Names

Ever imagined elephants calling each other by their name?

Animals have complex and different social behavior, and communication skills. Generally, naming system is special among humans, which has never been found in any other animals. However, a recent research has suggested something exciting and equally surprising for elephants. As per the reports, wild African elephants are able to address each other with individual "specific calls", which is equivalent to their names. This findings are fascinating in terms of evolution of language. Let's find out some more information about it.

Elephant's brain:

Elephant's brain has thrice the amount of neurons than human's brain. However, the cerebral cortex region of human is much more developed than elephant's. Elephants display a vast range of behaviors, like grief, play, learning, mimicry, altruism, compassion, and cooperation.

How elephants communicate?

Elephants, being a highly social animals communicate in multiple ways.

The first way of communication is using vocal sound. Elephants produce a vast range of sounds. Trumpeting is the most famous of them. Elephants use this to signals to express anger, distress, excitement, or even call for attention. The next one is using infrasound, which are so low-frequency sounds that the human cannot even sense. Infrasound can travel quite a long distances, helping elephants to communicate over several kilometers. Infrasound usually conveys information about potential threats, coordinating while moving in herds, or even estrous cycles. Tactile communication is another important way of communication used by elephant. For this, elephants use their trunks to comfort, greet, or play with each other. Physical contact is essential for promoting bonds within the group. Visual signals like ear flapping, body posture, and tail raising are also common among elephants for showing various emotions. For instance, when an elephant flaps its ears, this indicates aggression or agitation. Even, to send signal about their emotional state, elephants use pheromones which is a chemical communication system. Another unique approach that elephants follow to communicate is seismic communication.

New research findings:

The new research, which is yet to be published on journal, analyzed the calls from wild elephants in two zones of Kenya; one is in the greater Samburu ecosystem to the north, and the other is in Amboseli National Park to the south.

After measuring acoustic features of elephant's sounds and running various statistical tests, the researchers predicted "[R]eceivers of calls could be correctly identified from call structure statistically significantly better than chance."

"To our knowledge, this study presents the first evidence for vocal addressing of conspecifics without imitation of the receiver’s calls in nonhuman animals," the team of researchers wrote.

"Due to their fission-fusion social dynamics, elephants are often out of sight of their closely bonded social partners and produce contact rumbles to communicate over long distances," the authors explained, referring the tendency of elephants to split themselves up into smaller groups that can make aggregation to make large groups, sometimes hundreds-strong.

"Vocal labels could enhance coordinating ability while out of sight of one another," the authors further mentioned.

These findings further suggest artificial intelligence programs may help scientists better understand detailed animal communication.

The rumbles of Elephant are theorized to indicate a wide range of messages like age, gender, and even emotional state.

Understanding the communication methods of elephants will provide important insights into their behavior and can help in conservation efforts.