why do they say elephants never forget
Elephants are incredible creatures. The largest land mammals on earth, they show a wide range of behavioral and emotional patterns in their up-to-60-year lifespans. They grieve over the bodies of dead herd members, and can even recognize their owná
á in a mirror. á And, of course, there's that old saying: "Elephants never forget. " While it may be an exaggeration, there's more truth to the adage than you might realize. á In the wild, an elephantÁs memory is key to its survivalÁand its herdÁs. Each herd has a matriarchal structure, with one older female in charge. When younger males in the group reach sexual maturityÁusually around 14 years of ageÁthey to roam solo or occasionally form groups with other males. Proof of elephants' long memories lies in their behavior: When confronted with an unfamiliar elephant, matriarchs will because they realize that those elephants could pose a threat to the herd's safety. Science has also proven that elephants have great memories. In 2007, researchers at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland placed urine samples in front of female elephants at the á National Park in Kenya;, the elephants "acted up" when they smelled urine that didn't come from an elephant in their herd. The researchers concluded that elephants can recognize and track as many as 30 of their companions. "Imagine taking your family to a crowded department store and the Christmas sales are on," said psychologist Richard Byrne, one of the scientists who participated in the study. "What a job to keep track of where four or five family members are.
These elephants are doing it with 30 traveling-mates. "á Elephants Áalmost certainly know every [member] in their group,Áá á said, and exhibit cognitive abilities Áfar in advance of anything other animals have been shown to have. Áá Elephants don't just remember companions they've spent long stretches of time with, either. A pair of captive elephants have shown that these animals can recognize other friendly elephants even when they had only spent short periods of time together. At Áa non-profit organization based in Hohenwald, Tennessee, that is the U. S. 's largest natural-habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered elephantsÁin 1999, an elephant named Jenny became very animated when a new elephant named Shirley arrived. After looking into the animalsÁ backgrounds, workers at the Sanctuaryá that the two had performed with the same circus for only a few monthsÁ22 years earlier. Their superb memories help elephants stay alive in ways that go beyond just recognizing threats. , a Senior Program Officer with the Ás Species Conservation Program, tells mental_floss that one of the best examples of elephant cognition Ácomes from desert-adapted elephants, where the matriarchs remember where reliable water can be found and are able to guide their herds to water over very long distances, and over the span of many years.
This is a pretty clear indication that elephants have a great ability to remember details about their spatial environment for a very long time. Á matriarchs who have lived through dry spells before will lead their herds to more fertile land, while younger matriarchs who haven't experienced a drought are more likely to stay put. The elephants are able to use their whopping 10. 5-pound brains to encode identification and survival details, the key data to their memory to be recalled later. But an elephant's amazing memory comes only with age and experienceÁand older, larger elephants are often a target of hunters. ÁThe tragedy," says Lewis, "is that when one of these [elephants] is lost to poaching, the information dies with her,Á leaving the rest of the herd at a disadvantageÁand having severe consequences for the species as a whole. ÁAn never forgets! " Have you ever heard that saying before? It's a common saying, and people have believed that have memories for a long time. But is it true? In reality, Áan elephant never forgets" is a that's not true all the time because all elephants forget things from time to time.
However, scientists have proven that elephants do have. Researchers who studied African elephants in the wild learned that older, female elephants (called Ámatriarchs") often lead herds. These matriarchs build up a strong memory over time that allows them to remember friends and enemies. They can also remember places where the has found food and water in the past. Researchers believe elephants' good memories are a big part of how elephants survive and why so many live so long (50 to 60 years or more on average). Those who work closely with elephants also have noticed that elephants remember injuries and can hold grudges against those who have them. For example, a study of African elephants showed that the elephants would react to the smell or sight of certain clothing. They discovered that the elephants reacted this way because the clothing resembled that worn by Maasai tribesmen. These tribesmen often threw spears at elephants to prove their manhood. So why do elephants have such great memories? Scientists believe it probably has something to do with their large. An average adult elephant's brain weighs in at approximately 11 pounds Á the largest of all the land mammals! In comparison, the brains of humans and bottlenose dolphins Á two other Ásmart" mammals Á weigh about three pounds.
Of course, a large brain doesn't necessarily mean an animal will be smart. Studies have shown, though, that elephants are among the smartest in the animal kingdom. In fact, some scientists believe elephants are as smart as and chimpanzees. An elephant's brain is like a human's brain in both and. Researchers have found that elephants exhibit many behaviors that reveal intelligence, including, play, art, use of tools, and. For example, most elephants live in family groups that can only be separated by death or capture. Amazingly, elephants show signs of when they the remains of other elephants that have died. It's not uncommon for them to touch the dead bodies or bones with their feet or trunks. Elephants have shown " " (selfless concern for the welfare of others) by their willingness to help other, even humans, in distress. Elephants can also be observed playing and mimicking sounds they hear. When they use their trunks like arms, elephants demonstrate an unusual ability to use tools. One such use that has amazed people at zoos across the world is when an elephant uses its trunk to hold a brush to create abstract art. Perhaps one of the greatest signs of elephants' intelligence, though, is the ability to recognize their reflection in a mirror. This ability exhibits. This is something that only a few of the most intelligent can claim.
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