Research points to hefty conclusion
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.