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Call Me By My Name

A study yesterday revealed wild elephants may address each other by name, becoming one of only a handful of animals known to use unique sounds to address one another. 

The study examined 469 low-rumble sounds recorded from female African savanna elephants and their offspring from 1988 to 2022. A machine-learning model (see overview) analyzing the sounds was able to identify the elephant being addressed 27.5% of the time, a much higher rate than when the model was fed random audio. Researchers playing the audio clips in the wild elicited responses from the elephants in question, including movement toward the speaker as well as ear flapping and trunk movements.

It’s not clear which parts of the audio are the "names" or how naming conventions might work. Bottlenose dolphins and orange-fronted parakeets mimic each other's signature noises (w/video) to get each other’s attention, while humans use naming conventions and dogs respond when called.

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