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Elephants can decode human voices better than we can

11
Mar
2014

But African elephants may have taken this ability to the next level, as a new study suggests that elephants might be even better at decoding human voices than we are. The study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was initially designed to find out whether the wild elephants of Amboseli National Park, in Kenya, could use the acoustic information contained in human language to distinguish the threat posed by the local Maasai tribes — an ethnic group known for its hunting practices — from the lesser threat posed by the agricultural Kamba ethnic group. It didnt take long for the scientists to realize that these elephants had no trouble figuring out which male voices were cause for alarm and which werent, so they upped the ante by having elephants listen to recordings of Maasai women, who rarely hunt, as well as men. A third test revealed that the elephants didnt feel threatened by the voices of Maasai boys either.

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