Elephant’s sharp memory and human-like behavior

Elephant’s sharp memory and human-like behavior

An elephant is an incredible creature. It is the smartest mammal on earth. Studies have proven that elephants are as smart as chimpanzees and dolphins and perhaps even among the most intelligent in the animal kingdom. For generations, people have loved it’s the enormous size and amusing appearance. It makes a powerful impression on anyone and continues to fascinate and captivate both general observers and scientists alike. They also have a sharp memory which leads to long life and human-like behavior that gives an appearance of intelligence.

Sharp memory of the elephant

Their memory power of the elephant is extraordinary. There is an age-old adage: elephants never forget. To say that an elephant never forgets may be an exaggeration. It is equally impossible to claim that an elephant always remembers. It seems more likely that they forget. Although the theory is a myth, it doesn’t stray too far from the truth. Research has shown that elephants do possess the incredible and the exceptionally long memory power for certain things with the ability to keep information for many decades.

Peers and people

The face and smell of family members are the most important things that an elephant remembers. Besides, they have strong abilities to recall peers and individuals. Their peers who have been apart for several years seem to recognize and greet each other upon meeting again. They also remember people who trained them at a young age, but who haven’t been around for a long time.

Memory, experience, age

In the wild, the outstanding recall power of an elephant is thought to be part of how elephants survive and the key to its survival. The utilitarian memories of the elephant help them retain essential survival information.

For example, they are known for remembering the sites of important places where they have found water and food in the past over hundreds of miles of terrain. Remarkable memories about long-forgotten feeding ground locations are among its survival tactics. Furthermore, the superb memories of elephants help them recollect threats and tackle many dangerous situations. Thus, by using experiences stored in its brain, an elephant can remain alive longer than others. And, memories can stretch over decades, helping in their relatively long lifespan survival. They typically survive for eighty years in the wild. So, memory, experience, and age complete the vicious circle. Great memory leads to rich experiences and better survival chances which in turn leads to long life and old age.

Lost to poaching

Ironically, older and larger elephants are a hunter’s target, making them vulnerable to poaching. When the elephant gets killed, the data in the memory bank dies with it, and that leaves the herd at a disadvantage. Systemically, it also has severe consequences for the whole species.

Large sized brain

The memory power of elephants is due in large part to the enormous size of its brains. But, although they are large-brained animals, their brain doesn’t store each detail of every stimulus encountered. Instead, the memory encodes what’s essential for survival, such as family identification and resource location. In the same way that certain moments impact the lives of human beings, the contents of the functional memories of elephants are preserved for future retrieval.

Unfortunate side effect

The remarkable memory of elephants has an adverse effect. The elephant may remember good feeding locations now replaced by crops thereby paving the way to human-elephant conflict. But sadly, in the end, the elephant inevitably loses. This way, human beings continue to make their lives miserable through deforestation and poaching.

Human-like behavior of the elephant

The eternal quest to understand the elephant’s mystery is its human-like capacity for discernment, thought and insight. Some researchers believe that the intelligence level of the elephant rivals that of human beings. As a mark of their high intellect, they demonstrate a gamut of emotions including joy, grief, altruism, compassion, and self-awareness. These emotions come across as human-like behaviors. Mimicking sounds, medicating themselves, displaying playfulness, using tools, and solving problems are some of those behaviors.

Display of intelligence

Mimicking sounds is an indication of the elephant’s astonishing intelligence. They can play and mimic sounds they hear in nature or of other beings. The have been simulating the sounds of their trainer and passing trucks. Often, the elephant articulates certain sounds to bear a strong resemblance to the word spoken. A true manifestation of their intelligence is its ability to self-medicate. A pregnant mother due to give birth will chew on the leaves of Boraginaceae tree to induce labor. Another faculty that indicates the elephant’s superior intellect is its playfulness including games such as throwing sticks, passing an object, or squirting water from its trunk. Elephants in zoos have been seen stealing caps from onlookers and hiding them in a teasing manner.

When they use their trunks, elephants demonstrate an uncanny ability to learn new facts and accomplish tasks using various tools and implements. In captivity, they have been found to show interest in painting and art. One use that has amazed people across the world is when it holds a brush with its trunk to draw abstract art. A noticeable facet of the elephant’s intelligence is its problem-solving abilities. They dig holes for drinking water and mold bark from a tree to place it on top of the waterhole. Then they cover it with sand to avoid evaporation. Elephants use a stick to scratch when its trunk cannot reach its back. They also drop rocks on electric fences to ruin them.

Fascinating and mesmerizing

Elephants tend to hear or smell things first and then train their sight, instead of using their vision as the primary sensory input. Apart from a super memory and uncanny intelligence, elephants boast some other fascinating skills. They have a marvelous sensitivity to music and color. It can swallow a bunch of bananas. And they continue to amaze onlookers with their gimmicks and impress scholars with their capabilities. Elephant-watching is indeed a mesmerizing experience.

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