The big ears are not just for show.
Elephants can tell whether a human poses a threat by listening to his voice and sussing out subtle clues about his age, gender and ethnicity, according to a study released on Monday.
Researchers from the University of Sussex and the Amboseli Trust for Elephants played recordings of human voices to wild elephants in Kenya and watched how they reacted.
"Our results demonstrate that elephants can reliably discriminate between two different ethnic groups that differ in the level of threat they represent," the authors said in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study said an elephant herd was more likely to bunch up in a defensive position following playbacks of voices of Maasai people, an East African ethnic group that has hunted elephants for centuries, than other groups.
"Some would call it happiness, but I like to think that what I found is me. That sounds simple enough, but the truth is, it took quite a while to do it."
- Willie Nelson
That's amazing. They are such wonderful creatures and the way they interact with each other and the level of care they have shows how intelligent they are.
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