Sunday, April 28, 2013

Elephant Talk The Surprising Science of Elephant Communication by Ann Downer

Have you ever wondered what animals are talking about when they talk with each other?  Or maybe what it means when they make certain noises or actions?  This book is all about elephants.  Body language and different sounds all make up elephant talk.  These creatures have been part of our lives for thousands of years.  Unfortunately, elephants are endangered due to poaching.  Getting to know more about these animals and how amazing they are might help them from going extinct.

When an elephant is just a baby, the begin to pick up on the different cues and calls of their language.  The go through similar stages as humans.  They have a toddler stage, a teenager stage, and an adult stage.  When the elephant starts to show signs of being sexual, the mother will back away and the elephant will usually join a group of other single elephants.  Their life span can be up to sixty-five years old.  Elephants live in groups.  These groups are composed of family members of different generation.  This too is similar to humans.  Elephants work together in their group.  They defend and care for one another.  Each group is like a large family.

Elephants use a variety of different sounds and tones to communicate.  We've all heard the typical elephant call at the zoo.  This is what we tend to associate elephants with, but they have many more forms of communicating.  Some of their calls are much too low for human ears to hear.  They actually have a ten octave voice scale.  There are ten distinct calls elephants make.  Some are made with their throat and others are made with their trunk.  The ones made in their throat are the bark, the cry, the grunt, the husky cry, the rev, the roar, and the rumble.  The ones made in their trunks are the trumpet, the nasal-trumpet, and the snort. 

Aside from physical sounds, elephants also have different gestures and cues.  The use their ears, trunks, tails, and smells to play, impress mates, and send warning signs to other elephants.  When elephants are looking to mate, the female does a walk where she circles around and looks over her shoulder.  Males will wave their ears and trunks and urinate.  Elephants shake hands by intertwining their trunks with one another and inserting the tip of their trunk into the mouth of the other elephant.  When elephants flap their ears an one another, it is a sign that the group is getting ready to move to another place.  When the elephant runs with their tail straight out, it means there are lions in the area.  There are tons of different ways elephants communicate with one another.

Overall, I thought this was an intersting book.  It's cool to find out that animals have their own forms of communication just as we do.  I also really enjoyed the website  It made me appreciate the beauty of these animals even more.  


Tess said...

I really like your synopsis of the book, and love love loveeeeee the pictures of the elephants! This seems like such an interesting book. I am definitley going to read it this summer.

Recently, I have been observing and tutoring in 6-8 classrooms. The teachers have been trying to ge the class to read more non-fiction books that tie to other subject areas. They were just recently studying ecosystems and animals in honor of earth day, and I think this book would have been perfect for some of the students in the class. I am going to pass along the info!

Jchacon said...

This book sounds really interesting! I am very interested in how elephants and animals in general communicate. I had no idea that elephants can make noises that are too low of a frequency for humans to hear.
I am interested to learn how scientists determined what the particular interactions meant. Sounds to me like I'll have to read the book and find out!

maria hernandez said...

Wow. I didn't know that elephants have communication. Im interesting what the evidence behind that study or how they were able to interpreted their noises