Thursday, March 24, 2005

387: Elephants do impressions - Mimicry of trucks and zoo-mates shows range of vocal repertoire

news @ - Elephants do impressions - Mimicry of trucks and zoo-mates shows range of vocal repertoire.:

Researchers have recorded two African elephants (Loxodonta africana) that are adept mimics. One does a decent impression of an Asian elephant, and another is, remarkably, a dead ringer for a passing truck. The skilful impressions are far from the traditional grunts of an average African elephant. …

Tyack suspects that elephants' versatile vocal skills may help them recognize each other and therefore bond social groups together. He adds that other skilful vocalists, such as bats and dolphins, use sound for a range of social tasks including hunting and navigating
Most animals can't mimic. Mimicry is an evolutionary adaptation to sociality. Understanding the evolution of mimicry in elephant may teach us about the evolution of language in humans.