Story 2014-03-10 3FF Elephants Can Distinguish Human Voices by Ethnicity

Elephants Can Distinguish Human Voices by Ethnicity

in science on (#3FF)
story imageThe Los Angeles Times reports elephants distinguish human voices by sex, age, ethnicity according to a new study.

USA Today notes Maasai men, who may hunt the elephants, were treated differently than Kamba men, who are farmers.
When the voice belonged to a Maasai man, the elephants tended to sniff the air and bunch closely together for protection. But when the voice was a Kamba man's, the elephants were more nonchalant. The elephants also reacted with relative calm to the voices of Maasai women and boys, who, unlike Maasai men, generally don't take part in spearing elephants.
Voice of America says the study is available now but does not appear posted on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences site yet.
Reply 2 comments

Elephants are smart. (Score: 4, Interesting)

by on 2014-03-11 01:43 (#E3)

Really, really smart. Probably as smart as us. If their trunks were just a little more dextrous (and they're already pretty impressive) we'd have some serious competition.

Not surprized (Score: 5, Interesting)

by on 2014-03-11 03:09 (#E9)

Even lowly prairie dogs (meerkats) have "words" for "large thin human with a green shirt" or "small thick human with a blue shirt".