elephants actually have two distinct ways of communicating: by ordinary soundwaves rippling through the air, and by vibrations transmitted through the ground to exquisitely sensitive elephant toes.
The seismic waves are set in motion by the same "low-frequency vocalizations" that famously rumble across African savannas, said Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell. The ground sounds travel a greater distance than airborne calls, and may help keep herd members in touch with one another across a dozen or more miles.
"They are talking through the ground," O'Connell-Rodwell said. "It's not just elephant-to-elephant noise. It's a richer system of communication than we'd thought. They can discriminate very subtle vibrations through their feet."
Friday, June 29, 2007
"The 'listening' elephant catches the vibrations with its toes, behind which lie pads of acoustically sensitive fat."