Scientists agree that joy is an emotion that most of the mammals experience.
It has been agreed that rats engage in joyful plays like apes, and that they
have evolved a gargalesis tickle response. I couldn´t find any scientific
written evidence of elephants showing gargalesis, but there are tons of
personal experiences among animal keepers and elephant experts that would support it
It´s been often witnessed that elephants suffering from physical
pain caused by wounds resulting from chains, hooks, amputations, etc. press
their forehead against a wall or bite their trunk to reduce pain.
ELEPHANTS PRODUCE TEARS
In order to draw any scientific conclusion about something, science requires that we be able to measure it. We cannot measure emotions, so although it is a fact that elephants do produce tears, it is not scientifically certain that these tears are the result of an
THEIR TRUNK AS A SNORKEL Elephants are known to be excellent swimmers and have
been documented to spend hours in deep water swimming with just their trunks
above the water line.
It is the only animal that can snorkel at depth. From
a physiological point of view, this fact would be impossible, as the resulting
pressure differences require special lung structures, and specifically, changes
in the pleural membranes and pleural space. An autopsy conducted in 1681 on an
elephant revealed that the elephant´s lungs are unusual; they have connective
tissue in their pleural space, instead of liquid. As breathing while being
underwater must generate enormous pressures to expand their lungs against the
water pressure, they need a very strong and thick muscle around their lungs.
ELEPHANTS TAKE SALIVA BATHS At very high temperatures and with no near water
available, elephants will often introduce their trunks inside their mouths to
get saliva and spray it on their bodies to get refreshed.
ELEPHANTS ARE CHEMICALLY RELATED TO INSECTS
What does the largest terrestrial mammal have in
common with a moth?
They are pheromone fellows; elephants share an
attraction to (Z)-7-dodecenylacetate, a female urine pheromone that provokes a high frequency of chemosensory responses in males prior to and during mating, with 140 species of
moth (Rasmussen et al., 1996).Such coincidences are a consequence of convergent evolution.
Pheromones: Convergence and contrasts in insects and vertebrates,Tristram D. Wyatt (in Wyatt, TD (2003) Pheromones and Animal Behaviour: Communication by Smell and Taste. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge) Von Elefanten und Menschen, Kurt, Fred (2014)
A whopping 98 (!!!) chimps have been identified and 45 of them matched and named at Restless Star! There are still LOTS of open discussion boards and 53 unnamed chimps waiting for people to weigh in on! You can find the discussions needing attention by checking out the Restless Star Discussion Board and looking for the discussions highlighted with asterisks ** (make sure to check out all the pages on the board!) If you are new to chimp matching this is a great way to start. Check out the discussion, look at the proposed matches and see if you think the chimps match or not, then post with your thoughts and comments :) every person's opinion helps and very often we let people who help with the discussions give the names to the chimps - so join in! An extra big THANK YOU and pant hoots to our science team mod Maureen McCarthy who has been overseeing all the chimp matching at Restless Star! And as always a big round of pant hoots to our amazing mods who keep everything running smoothly every day! Thank you ksigler, AnLand, jwidness, yshish and Quia!
What's next? Right now classification focus will continue at our west African site "Aged Violet" for a little while longer. But we hope to be uploading another site as soon as possible! So go to chimpandsee.org and classify some videos today!
The elephant brain is the largest
among terrestrial mammals, and weighs between 4,5 and 6,5 kilograms. The brains of both African and Asian
elephants exhibit features comparable to those of some of the cetaceans and the great apes, including humans.
Decades of scientific research have been showing that elephants are among the most intelligent and emotionally complex
Like humans, great apes and dolphins, as large-brained
species showing a greater developed cerebral cortex, elephants have the amazing
capability to learn complicated tasks and retain that information for longer. They have been seen sticking wood pieces
between their trunk and a tusk and keeping them for the right moment to be used; this fact reflects the planning skills of intelligent species:
Consciousness is one more potential proof of
intelligence; apart from humans and apes, dolphins and elephants are also known
to possess the capacity to recognize themselves in a mirror (a standard test of
self-awareness). Elephants show social and ecological memory: they recognize a large number of individuals in their own herd or in others. They remember resources such as the location of ephemeral water sources or food available.
Here´s a heart touching tale about elephants remembering their own kind:
Two elephants called Shirley (~53) and Jenny (~30) met in The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennesseeafter 23 years apart. Their reactions showed obvious signs that they
knew each other. Shirley started to display mothering behavior, like protecting
Jenny from the sun and harm. They spent the rest of their lives together like
mother-daughter. It was then known that Shirley and Jenny had been together in a circus
when Jenny was a calf. See what happens when they meet:
Happy #Caturday! African golden cats (Caracal aurata) are small wild cats living in the forests of West and Central Africa. The fur coloration varies from grey to reddish-brown and melanistic (black) individuals are also known. The Chimp&See camera trap footage shows some of these variations.
Elephants are known to have the ability
to express emotions. In the same way like humans and chimpanzees do, they can
express sadness, empathy, stress, anger, joy, etc. Adolescents and juveniles can get easily annoyed or angry with each other. In the clip below, the adolescent in front of the camera gets annoyed by the juvenile approaching from behind, trying to put it away with its trunk from what it was first exploring on the ground, ears flapping. The juvenile leaves bothered with its tail up: so the sequence here would be: adolescent finds something interesting on the ground, juvenile wants to check it too with its trunk but the adolescent gets annoyed by it; juvenile leaves bothered like saying: "ok, it´s all yours!":
We have already talked about their strong social bonds, but have a look at this sequence: there´s a young individual afraid of something in its way and not daring to go through. Tail up, and walking stressed back and forth. The next individual (a juvenile, I would say female) rapidly approaches and touches it with its trunk in a comforting way. The third one does the same thing, trunk touch and approaching to explore the potential danger; it´s a male, excited by the situation with his penis out and flapping ears. Look at the first individual´s reaction when it´s touched by the trunks! it just calms down, accepts to keep walking and follows its `saviors`. Interesting video showing fear, stress and empathy resulting in protection, support and guidance:
See how they react when they experience a stressful situation (in the case of the video below, the camera is the stressing factor). Tails up, ears flapping. If male, penis out, and if brave enough, ears out and walking in the direction of the potential danger in a threatening way:
They are as well known to show a special interest when it comes to a relative´s death.
I´m sure you have heard about the
elephant´s graveyard story; it tells that elephants have “graveyards” where
they go when they feel that their end is coming closer, and it is certainly a
beautiful story to believe in. However, let me just play the “killjoy” here. The reality is that as they get older, they start to lose their
molars (remember?) and
they need to feed on soft and wet plants that they can easily chew. So they go to
the river sides where there are plenty of those plants. They would stay there
until they die of starvation and then their bodies flow down the river and end
up in a dryer place where the water can´t drag the body anymore. If there were
some elephants dying near the same river, the result is a gather place with
dead elephant bodies. That´s what local people see, and this fact along with
the belief in the elephant´s huge intelligence make this beautiful graveyard
It´s been often documented that when an
elephant dies, its group (or a different group) stays around the dead body for a
while (sometimes even days), just standing and exploring it with their trunks
and feet. If you think of the elephant´s need of feeding during many hours a day to get all the nutrients that they need, the fact that they just stay beside a body for hours, "wasting" their precious feeding time, is very surprising.
Although there are plenty of images showing
that they express emotions in front of a relative´s dead body, still there´s
little scientific evidence of the reasons why they do it. But they do it… letting
aside the scientific explanation, I myself have witnessed awesome scenes. Let
me tell you a story that I heard about:
Some years ago, in a zoo in Germany, there was a group of female elephants living together for several years. So
one day one of those ladies died. In order to avoid a macabre scene for the
visitors, the workers in the zoo had to `prepare´ her body inside the elephant
house to be transported in a truck out of the zoo. The other three elephants were
of course outside during that procedure. The body was then transported in the
food truck, and covered with a canvas. They had to drive the food truck with the
covered dead elephant body all along the pathway in front of the elephant
enclosure where the others stayed. Right when the truck was driving in front of
them, all other females went close to the fence and stretched their trunks,
sniffing the air. This fact alone was not that special, as they used to do it
when the food truck was driving along every day. What was really surprising was that
this time they started to trumpet out loud in the direction where their dead
group member was being taken. Amazing,
isn´t it? References:
Did you know that together bats and rodents make up over half of all mammal species? Not only that, but both groups can be found on all continents except for Antarctica, and in many different kinds of habitats. But it's ok if bats and rodents aren't your favorite animals at Chimp&See, because they actually appear in only a small portion of all the camera trap videos. Rodents are hard to catch on camera because many species are small and don't like to be out in the open. Bats are tough because they fly so quickly that they're usually gone before the camera has a chance to record them. In fact, many of our videos with bats are actually triggered by another animal! Here are a couple of fun videos found by Corcaroli and DataDroid, each showing both a bat and a rodent.