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 New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>