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Elephant bulls react more strongly to unknown females


The cognitive biologists Angela Stöger and Anton Baotic are investigating the communication of elephants. Specifically, they study how elephant bulls vocalize - these, unlike the females, are considered silent listeners. In the current issue of the scientific journal "Scientific Reports", they were able to show that elephant bulls found the sounds of unknown females much more attractive and appealing than those of familiar females: possibly an evolutionary adaptation to avoid inbreeding.

African elephants have a flexible social and hiking behavior. In order to keep in touch, the gray giants produce very deep sounds, some of which lie below the human hearing threshold in the so-called infrared range. With the help of these infrasonic sounds, which are called "rumbles", elephants can communicate widely over great distances. This "secret language" provides an important information and communication channel for the socially living pachyderms. In the context of a project funded by the FWF, Angela Stöger and Anton Baotic are concerned with the behavior and communication of the relatively little explored elephant bulls, specifically in the "Addo Elephant National Park" in South Africa. They use playback experiments to explore the sensory and cognitive abilities of the male pachyderms. [more]