Elephants can call each other by “names.”  scientific reseach

Thanks to the latest research, an amazing ability has been discovered in elephants. According to scientists, it turns out that these animals can maintain contact with their relatives while sometimes shouting their “names.”

Researchers conducted observations on elephants living in the Kenyan savanna. The analysis has not yet been peer-reviewed, but if its results can be verified and reproduced, the elephant will become the second species (after humans) to communicate with a specific individual using random sounds. Scientists confirm that bottlenose dolphins can also call specific individuals with their distinctive whistle, but the matter is slightly different from what distinguishes humans, and perhaps also elephants.

Behavioral ecologist and lead author Michael Pardo of Colorado State said his team’s findings could blur the line between “what we think is unique to human language and what is found in the communication systems of other animals.”

Contact and regards

Elephants often make animal sounds, but the vast majority of the sounds they make are inaudible to humans. These mammals emit sounds at a frequency too low for us to hear, but another member of the species can hear them within a radius of up to six kilometers.

Elephants spend many hours every day searching for food, and it is not uncommon for them to lose sight of their relatives. Therefore, in case of loss, calling appears to be a useful means of controlling the herd. To investigate this possibility, Pardo and his colleagues spent long hours in two different locations recording the sounds made by elephants. In total, as many as 625 votes were recorded. Some of them were grunts with the intention of making contact, but some of them were also greetings after a long period of separation.

By analyzing the different characteristics of these calls, the researchers used a machine learning model to investigate whether specific calls could be made only for selected animals. It turns out that yes. When the researchers were able to recreate certain sounds surrounded by some elephants, they responded with sounds when they heard their “name.”

Furthermore, individual elephants often used the same types of calls to communicate with the same recipient, and the sounds were not directed exclusively at representatives of selected societal groups, such as mothers.

African elephantsStock struggle

Understanding animal language

Of all the sounds recorded, only about a fifth were identified as single phonetic designations, which is quite similar to the way humans use names. Often they are not needed in a particular situation or are just one element of a much broader issue.

There is a theory that elephant sounds can contain a whole range of messages – from information about age or gender to emotional state. In some cases, it may be more important than the name.

“Instead of having a completely separate conversation, elephant vocalizations can convey many additional messages,” the researchers explain. “The richness of the information content of elephant vocalizations makes it difficult to determine the specific acoustic parameters assigned to a particular receiver.”

The findings suggest that AI programs could really help us better understand animals and the mysteries surrounding their communication. Perhaps one day scientists will be able to use this knowledge to call elephants by their names.

Main image source: Stock struggle

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