Scientists Discover Clues to Elephants' "Secret" Language

elephant calling

Photo via Christian Haugen via Flickr CC

Elephants are brilliant creatures. They can count, and even identify different languages. In fact, they have their own "secret" language - sounds emitted between animals that cannot be heard by human ears - that scientists are working to decode. And they think they've discovered some important clues. Elephants speak not only in trumpeting calls, but also in grows, two-thirds of which are at frequencies too low for the human ear to detect. In order to find out what these growls are communicating, researchers from the San Diego zoo attached a microphone and GPS tracking system to eight of the zoo's elephants.

Leading the project, Matt Anderson stated, "We're excited to learn of the hierarchy within the female herd and how they interact and intercede with one another."

They've found that these low frequency growls are used by pregnant females to announce to the herd they're ready to give birth. The sounds also may be used to warn fellow elephants to watch for predators as the female gives birth.

"You may think that a baby calf of about 300 pounds would not be as open to predation as other species," he says. "But packs of hyenas are a big threat in the wild."

The team is excited about what has been discovered so far, and are continuing to study the complicated language of elephants.

Check out the video from BBC here.
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