Studying elephants' long-distance communications

Mark Shwartz/Stanford News Service
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Stanford biologist Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell and her colleagues conducted an elaborate elephant communication experiment in Namibia’s Etosha National Park in July 2004. Their findings suggest that elephants produce powerful, low frequency vocalizations that travel through the ground. These seismic signals might be used to find distant mates or identify potential predators.

In this video, Caitlin and husband Tim Rodwell demonstrate how wild elephants react when acoustic recordings are converted into seismic vibrations—a daytime experiment in which the sounds of frightened elephants are played back underground, and a nighttime test using a synthesized warble tone.