Elephants Give Each Other Names In Remarkable Discovery

By Britta DeVore | Updated

elephant names

Whether you’re having a bad day or a good day, it’s about to get all the better as today, in cute critter news, we’re thrilled to report that elephants have names for each other. That’s right, a new study reveals that the largest land mammals all have a designated name in their pack and respond to it when called – except in moments of selective hearing. 

More Questions

Of course, this leaves us with the biggest follow-up question of all – what type of elephant names are out there? Do they have a name as popular as John or Danielle? Or are they more a crafty group of creatures than us humans? While we may never know the answer to that question, we do know how the finding came to be.

The Research

The credit for the discovery of elephant names goes to a group of researchers who worked tirelessly for over a year as they recorded and picked apart hundreds of interactions between the trunked animals.

Through listening to these tracks of elephant tunes, the scientists slowly but surely separated the sounds of the animals calling each other which then led them to the discovery of a sort of call and response between their subjects. Essentially, what they came to find was that elephants would either respond verbally or physically (by moving closer) when their names were called by members of their family or friends.

Intelligent Animals

biggest animal

Elephants have long been thought to be one of the brainier beings in the animal kingdom, making this finding that they call one another by their names not completely mind-boggling.

Through other researchers and folks who have spent long periods with the impressive creatures, it’s been learned that elephants have a wide range of emotions, allowing them to feel empathy and also grieve the loss of a loved one.

They also bond with not just fellow elephants but also humans, have impressive memories, and use tools for certain tasks like tossing a rock at an enemy or using sticks to flick ticks from their skin.

Incredible Potential

And, when it comes to communication, we’re just beginning to scratch the surface as far as what elephants are capable of as, along with being on a first-name basis, there’s also research being done to better understand their thought process and whether they possess a much fuller vocabulary than we’ve thought.

In fact, elephants are thought to be so wise and able to be educated that George Wittemyer, the study’s co-author and a conservation biologist at Colorado State University, says that it’s his hope for humans and elephants to someday be able to communicate with one another. This, Wittemyer says, would be specifically helpful in the war against poaching as humans could verbally direct elephants away from poacher-heavy areas.

A New Smartypants Champ Of The Wild Kingdom?

When it comes to the animal kingdom, usually it’s the dolphins and octopuses that take the first place position when we think about knowledge, but now that elephants are calling one another by their names, we may have a new contender for the top spot.

Source: Nature Ecology and Evolution

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