Wild African Elephants Use Names To Address Each Other, Just Like We Do

adogslifephoto - - illustrative purposes only

Throughout human cultures, names are a key part of an individual’s identity. They help us communicate with each other, connect us to our cultural and family history, and give us a sense of belonging.

However, personal names have long been thought of as strictly a human concept. New research has debunked that idea and suggests that wild African elephants address each other with specific calls that are equivalent to names.

In the study, a team of researchers analyzed the calls of wild elephants from two areas in Kenya—the greater Samburu ecosystem located in the north and the Amboseli National Park in the south.

In total, they counted around 470 separate elephant calls. There were 101 unique callers and 117 unique receivers. The researchers only included calls that were made toward a single elephant.

They measured the acoustic features of the sounds the elephants elicited and conducted statistical tests on the data.

They wanted to see if it was possible to guess the identity of the elephant receiving the call from listening to the call itself.

Ultimately, the researchers found that receivers of calls could be identified from the structure of the call.

The team was also interested in seeing whether the calls imitate the receiver’s own vocalizations, as other species, such as dolphins, have been discovered to do.

After combing through the elephant data, they did not find much evidence that the callers were mimicking each receiver’s own vocalizations.

adogslifephoto – – illustrative purposes only

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