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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Elephant mamas

If you use gmail, you may notice (maybe not) there's a line at the top where links are proposed, perhaps related to you in some way.

So does it mean something that Google just offered this one to me? It certainly fills me with some satisfaction, though I try very hard not to get larger, and I never stomple my daughter Melina in order to get to the bark first!

Extracts from
Elephants Respect Old, Big Females
by Jennifer Viegas

In a female elephant gang, few animals bother the oldest and biggest of the group because they know she will not put up with any nonsense, according to a new study that found age and size determine wild female elephant hierarchies.

Humans may shrink as they get older, but not elephants.

"A clear dominance hierarchy probably mitigates this risk of injury," [the researcher] said. "For instance, if two female elephants both want to eat bark from the same tree branch, the subordinate elephant will simply back off because she knows that, if she were to challenge the other elephant, she would lose."

Although the observed elephants occasionally would charge, chase, poke and push each other, generally they reserved their greatest aggression toward unrelated intruders. That is when the female group would band together to defend each other.

The most spats overall, however, occurred between mothers and daughters.

"Elephant mothers and daughters stay together in the same group and are often within a few meters of each other," said Archie. "We think this intense physical proximity is the main reason why mother and daughters fight so often. As one of my colleagues says, 'You'd fight too if you still had to live with your mother.'"

She said that, like humans, "elephants form close social relationships that endure throughout their lives."

These relationships can also extend beyond the family group to include hundreds of other individuals. Many humans associate age with wisdom, as do elephants, which seem to respect that "the elderly appear to be repositories of ecological and social knowledge."

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At 7:11 AM, Blogger Badaunt said...

I grew up in a house without many books (and isn't that sad?) but one of the few books we had was one called 'Elephant Bill.' I LOVED that book, and must have read it dozens of times. I just Googled it and discovered it's still around:

Elephant Bill, by J.H. Williams. The review brings back a few memories! Wonderful book. I must read it again sometime.


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