Saturday, June 22, 2013

Elephant Brains, Part 2

Brain development in elephants is somewhat similar to that of humans. Both elephant and human offspring require considerable parental care and training. As the mass of the brain increases, so does the learning ability of both children and elephant calves. As with humans, the brains of female elephants are slightly smaller than that of bull elephants. However, size appears unrelated to intelligence (e.g., overall intelligence between males and females—elephants or humans—is at least equal). A plethora of observational stories point to the fact that elephants not only possess high levels of intelligence and good memories, but also can be very empathetic. They have “heart.” (An elephant’s heart is about five times as large as a human heart and at least 50 times as heavy.) The temporal lobes proportionately larger in the elephant brain than in any other mammal. Typically temporal lobes are related to hearing in mammals and speech in humans. Studies have shown that African elephants can make at least 25 different calls, each with a specific meaning and, well-trained, may know as many as 40 voice commands. The Nature Institute has some comparison drawings of human and elephant brains, showing these larger temporal lobes:

No comments: