Trunks a lot pal! Elephants learn to work together says new test

By Colin Ricketts - 08 Mar 2011 19:50:0 GMT
Trunks a lot pal! Elephants learn to work together says new test

We've been convinced for years that elephants are among the most intelligent creatures with which we share the planet and now scientists are starting to prove that gut instinct right.

The problem with proving that elephants are smart is that they are undoubtedly large and submitting these giants to scientific study is fraught with dangers.

But new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences in America aims to prove that Elephants are clued-up enough to know how to work as a team.

To test the Asian elephants, researchers went back into the history of science to a classic 1930s test of cooperation that has formerly been used on primates. It's a fairly simple set-up: elephants are shown a reward which they can only reach by pulling two ropes simultaneously.

By seeing whether animals are able to get to the food, the experiment shows that they are able to learn and act with a partner to achieve a goal. While this sort of behavior has been observed in many animals, most notably primates, there's very little experimental evidence.

That's what this experiment provides by showing that the inquisitive pachyderms were able to figure out that they must act together, that they must wait for their partner to pull the rope to get to the food and that acting alone got them absolutely nothing.