Here’s one interesting fact from the animal kingdom: elephants can name one another. A recent study found that elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park seem to call each other by “name” using a series of low, complex, “rumbling” noises.

Unlike the English names given to animals, scientists say that elephants have their own way of communicating individual names through unique vocalization.

In a paper published several months ago in the preprint server BioRxiv, researchers discovered that African savannah elephants (scientific name: Loxodonta africana) produce sounds distinct to individuals within their social group.

In turn, elephants of that group will respond accordingly, which leads researchers to observe how elephants could “call” one another by “name.”

While some animals can call to one another—such as dolphins and parrots—these animals are known to imitate the receiver’s calls. Some animals produce what is known as “referential calls,” which are sounds that allow their fellow kind to know whether there is a predator or food.

These referential calls are believed to come from the animal’s instincts and are not something they pick up socially or by interacting with other animals. Only the elephants are known to create this unique, rumbling noise.

Researchers recorded 527 elephant cries in the greater Samburu ecosystem in northern Kenya and 98 more in Amboseli National Park in the southern area. The team then identified 119 specific rumbling noises by observing the female elephants and their offspring who had been separated from the herd.

The researchers then used a computer model to appropriately identify the receivers of about 20.3% of the 625 recorded calls. This is a remarkable feat, as it is a step towards the future of studying more about how this animal communicates.

Caitlyn O’Connell-Rodwell, an elephant biologist from Harvard University Medical School, observed different rumbles, one for communication, another for anti-predator purposes, and another for greeting. This observation can be summarized in the notion that elephants make these noises precisely with whom they aim to communicate.

However, the pattern is less evident than between a single caller and a receiver, perhaps because the rumbles recorded multiple messages simultaneously. This does not allow the computer model to identify the exact “names” used in the elephant calls.

Another evidence supporting their study is the observation that the elephants respond to calls directed to them and not just a random noise produced by other elephants. O’Connell comments that their study is on how this animal can move about their herd and still be able to communicate with a specific individual elephant other than the way they send signals to the entire group.

It’s fascinating how there is more to study and discover, and the scientists are very excited about this. What do you think of this revelation? Let us know your thoughts.

Via: Live Science

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