Discover the One Animal Experts Now Believe Call Each Other by Their ‘Names’

Tarangire National Park is within driving distance from Singida
© Benny Marty/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kirstin Harrington

Published: September 5, 2023

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There’s no denying that elephants are extremely intelligent creatures. Now, African Elephants are proving that they’re even smarter than we’re led to believe. According to recent research done by experts and Colorado State University, wild African elephants may be able to speak to each other with a unique sound that would be comparable to humans calling each other by a name. 

If you want to get your friend Ashley’s attention, for example, you’d simply call her name. This finding has significant ramifications for the development of language.

The new study examined cries made by roaming elephants in two regions of Kenya. The first region consists of the broader Samburu environment to the north. The second is Amboseli National Park. It has been published as a preprint but still needs to be approved by peer review.

The total number of interactions in the final sample was 625, and 597 of those calls were between relatives. 114 distinct callers and 119 distinct receivers were present. The sounds that were made specifically to one particular elephant whose recipient could be recognized were the only ones recorded by the researchers. 

However, what was intriguing about the creature’s information was that the researchers discovered scant proof that the callers were mimicking each receiver’s individual call. The present research, to our understanding, provides the first support for nonhuman animal auditory addressing of related species without copying the receiver’s cries. 

That is undeniably incredible. 

How Smart Are Elephants?

wild elephants, mother and son

There are three species of elephants.

©Aelice/Shutterstock.com

What makes these gentle giants so intelligent? African elephants have been shown by experts at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, to be able to identify distinctions between people’s gender, age, and race simply by listening to someone’s speech. 

The elephants go into protective behavior if the sound they hear is that of someone who is more likely to be dangerous. Elephants have been observed making fly swatters from grass or twigs. They also use sticks to itch themselves in places they wouldn’t be able to reach. 

A few individuals have been seen by experts excavating a hole to get to drinking water. After, they cover the hole with a wood ball to stop the water from evaporating. This is a form of preservation for future consumption. To claim that elephants comprehend death in the same manner that people do would appear to be an exaggeration.  

But elephants have shown remarkable responses to the deaths of their species, frequently exhibiting what seem to humans to be grieving and mourning characteristics. They will spend hours standing close to the body of the dead with their trunks caressing the skeleton remains. They’ve even tried to bury what was left in the past. 

They don’t act in this manner around other animals’ carcasses, making these creatures even more remarkable.


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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