JUN 17, 2017 04:03 PM PDT

The elephant who never forgets

2 3 183

The proverb goes: an elephant never forgets. But what makes elephants have such great memories? An elephant is able to remember every member in their group, recognize as many as 30 companions by sight or smell, remember cues that signal danger, and recall significant locations - all of which help them survive. But it is their memory that is not obviously related to survival that makes them incredible beings. Take their ability to remember people and other elephants who they have not seen for years or decades, such as the two circus elephants who rejoiced upon their reunion after 10 years even though they had only worked together for a short time. So what gives elephants this advanced memory?

Elephants have the biggest brains of any land mammal and a high brain-to-body ratio (almost that of a chimpanzee); furthermore, convergent evolution has made their brains highly developed, with as many neurons and synapses in their hippocampus and cerebral cortex. It is this large and high-functioning hippocampus that aids with the elephants capacity to recall certain individuals or places by encoding the information into long-term memories. This plays into the social aspect of elephants, explaining why clans with older matriarchs (the older, the better because they hold more memories and knowledge about survival) often thrive more than clans without the wizened females. Their large brains also account for their unique problem-solving skill set and their emotions. To learn more about the cool things elephants can do, watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 04, 2018
Videos
JUL 04, 2018
How Did Viruses Originate?
There is still a debate about whether or not viruses are a form of life, and we really don't know where they came from.
JUL 13, 2018
Technology
JUL 13, 2018
Watch: HEXA Robot Takes Care of Plants
This spider-like robot will shift your succulent plants into sunlight or shade.
JUL 17, 2018
Videos
JUL 17, 2018
About That EM Drive Idea...
Traveling through space requires a lot of fuel, and this limitation defines just how far we can go. Physicists have been experimenting with the ‘impo
JUL 23, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 23, 2018
Earth is Pretty Small Compared to Everything Else in Space
To you and I, the Earth might seem like a large place. But in astronomical terms, our planet is actually quite small. Comparatively, the gas giant planets
JUL 30, 2018
Videos
JUL 30, 2018
Identifying Symptoms of a Heat Stroke
A heat stroke is when the body loses its ability to cool itself and the body’s core temperature becomes dangerously high. For some individuals, a hea
AUG 15, 2018
Videos
AUG 15, 2018
What Your Doodles Say About You
During a boring meeting, a teleconference or a less-than-interesting class, many of us will doodle mindlessly on paper. It’s a way of passing the tim
Loading Comments...