Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

APS Podcast Updates Research on Elephant Communication

22.09.2009
Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell’s insight that elephants ‘talk’ and ‘listen’ to vocalizations that they send through the ground grew from long hours of observation and experimentation, as well as her own in-depth knowledge of insects that communicate seismically.

In Episode 25 of the APS podcast, Life Lines, the Stanford University professor updates her research from the APS journal Physiology, explaining how elephant vocalizations travel through the ground for great distances, and how other elephants can understand them, just as they understand acoustic sound, which travels through the air. The study in Physiology can be found by clicking here or by following the full link at the end of the release.

Dr. O’Connell-Rodwell is the author of The Elephant’s Secret Sense. You can see videos of some of the elephant communication experiments she describes in the podcast on her Utopia Scientific site. The links to the videos are on this page: http://utopiascientific.org/Research/mushara.html.

Discovers seismic communication
Early in her research, Dr. O’Connell-Rodwell noticed behavior that indicates elephants are listening to acoustic (airborne) sounds by putting their ears out and orienting toward the sound’s source.

At other times, she also noticed a more puzzling behavior: Several elephants would freeze simultaneously, sometimes in mid-stride, and would press their front feet into the ground. They might also roll a foot forward so that only their toes touched the ground. At other times, they would lift a front leg. The behavior reminded her of the behavior she saw in insects that communicate seismically.

She began a series of experiments that eventually found that:

• Low-frequency elephant vocalizations, which are below the threshold of human hearing, travel through the ground in the same waveform as they do in the air. The ground vocalization can travel faster or more slowly than acoustic sound, depending on soil conditions, but has the potential of travelling further as there is no outer limit to how far sounds can travel through the earth.

• When she played a recorded elephant vocalization through the ground only (not through the air), other elephants detected the vocalization.

• Elephants understood the ground-borne vocalizations. For example, they responded appropriately to an alarm call from another elephant by assuming their defensive posture of bunching and freezing. They also responded only to alarm calls of elephants living in the area rather than those made from elephants elsewhere.

Further research revealed that there are two ways elephants ‘hear’ sound waves traveling through the ground:

Somatosensory pathway. Elephants feel the sound wave through their feet and trunks using the somatosensory pathway. Their feet and trunks have a large number of pacinian corpuscles -- cells that detect vibrations. The cells help transmit these vibrations to the brain.

Bone conduction pathway. Elephants detect ground-borne sound waves through their toenails. The vibration travels up the bone and into the middle ear where it vibrates the middle ear bones, just as an acoustic sound would.

Elephants also have anatomical adaptations to help them ‘hear’ these ground-borne vocalizations:

• They have an enlarged malleus, a middle ear bone that plays an important role in hearing. Animals that communicate seismically often have an enlarged malleus as it also facilitates bone conducted detection of vibrations.

• Elephants can close their middle ear canal, forming a closed acoustic tube which enhances bone conduction and blocks out acoustic sound, helping the elephant focus on the vibration pathway.

• They have an acoustically designed foot, with a thick fat pad that perhaps helps in the transmission or conduction of vibrations.

You can find the podcast interview at http://lifelines.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=524100 and an article on the research in the journal Physiology: http://physiologyonline.physiology.org/cgi/search?sortspec=relevance&author1=O%27Connell-Rodwell&fulltext=&pubdate_year=&volume=&firstpage=.

For more information, please contact Christine Guilfoy at cguilfoy@the-aps.org or at 301.634.7253.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function to create health or disease. The American Physiological Society (APS) has been an integral part of this scientific discovery process since it was established in 1887.

Christine Guilfoy | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.the-aps.org

Further reports about: APS Bird Communication Elephant Plattform Physiology elephants middle ear sound wave

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>