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Nature. 2005 Mar 24;434(7032):455-6.

Animal behaviour: elephants are capable of vocal learning.

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  • 1ElephantVoices, Amboseli Trust for Elephants, PO Box 15135, Langata 00509, Nairobi, Kenya.

Abstract

There are a few mammalian species that can modify their vocalizations in response to auditory experience--for example, some marine mammals use vocal imitation for reproductive advertisement, as birds sometimes do. Here we describe two examples of vocal imitation by African savannah elephants, Loxodonta africana, a terrestrial mammal that lives in a complex fission-fusion society. Our findings favour a role for vocal imitation that has already been proposed for primates, birds, bats and marine mammals: it is a useful form of acoustic communication that helps to maintain individual-specific bonds within changing social groupings.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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