Re­search points to hefty con­clu­sion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER - FIONA MACRAE

THE old adage is that they never for­get. But ele­phants are also quick to get the point.

A study found that the an­i­mals in­stinc­tively un­der­stand what point­ing means.

While this dis­cov­ery may not seem sur­pris­ing, the pachy­derms may be the only crea­ture ca­pa­ble of the feat.

Even chimps strug­gle to un­der­stand that some­thing that is be­ing pointed at is of in­ter­est.

Sci­en­tists at St An­drews Univer­sity in the UK said this sug­gests ele­phants are more “cog­ni­tively like us” than we re­alise. Cog­ni­tion is our abil­ity to pay at­ten­tion, use lan­guage, mem­ory, prob­lem solv­ing and think­ing.

It could also help ex­plain why the an­i­mals are used in tasks such as log­ging – de­spite their size and the po­ten­tial dan­ger they pose.

Re­searcher Pro­fes­sor Richard Byrne said: “What ele­phants share with hu­mans is that they live in a net­work in which sup­port, em­pa­thy and help for oth­ers are crit­i­cal for sur­vival.”

The study ob­served African ele­phants used to give rides near the Vic­to­ria Falls in Zim­babwe to see whether they would choose to in­ves­ti­gate a bucket that was be­ing pointed at or a dif­fer­ent one a few feet away.

They chose the cor­rect bucket al­most 70 per­cent of the time – and were just as good at the task the first time they tried as the last, sug­gest­ing their abil­ity to un­der­stand point­ing is ge­netic.

Re­searcher Anna Smet said: “What re­ally sur­prised us is that they did not ap­par­ently need to learn any­thing.” – Daily Mail

GET­TING THE POINT: Re­search sug­gests that ele­phants are more on our wave­length than we think.

HEAVY: A study found that ele­phants in­stinc­tively un­der­stand what point­ing means.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.