Research Reveals That Larynx Is Key to Elephant Communication According to Igor Purlantov
Recent research has revealed exactly just how elephants communicate. Scientists have long believed that elephants communicate in a manner similar to cats who purr by twitching their vocal folds rhythmically because their folds are too short to make low pitched noises. A new study in the research journal Science reveals that elephants rumble the same way that humans talk or sing says animal rights advocate Igor Purlantov. Elephants make their rumbling communication possible by blowing air past their long vocal folds and letting them vibrate. This new discovery runs counter to the original belief that elephant communication was the result of their vocal folds twitching. This research provides an illustration of the longest example of vocal folds being able to make such sounds in the animal kingdom.
Researchers have long known that elephants rumble as means of communication that covers very long distances. By rumbling, elephants are able to send vibrations across their environments which are picked up by the feet of other elephants says Igor Purlantov. Research into elephant communication has also shown that elephants are very intelligent, emotional and social creatures that are known to mourn the death of loved ones just as humans do. Unfortunately, until now the exact means of how elephants communicate was unknown as some scientist speculated that these rumbling sounds were produced by the twitching of vocal folds.
Despite the large size of elephant vocal folds, the core pitches of many elephant rumbles are too low for human ears to detect. Humans are only able to hear the higher overtones. Humans can however sometimes feel the lower vibrations of powerful elephant rumbles in their chest if they stand close enough says Igor Purlantov. This recent discovery shows that amazingly just as humans talk and sing and cow’s moo and bats echolocate, so are elephants able to rumble using a similar physiological process. It is quiet a remarkable discovery as scientists now have a theory for explaining such a diverse range of sounds and communications between such a large variety of animals.