Life as We Know It
Dinosaur gangs, psychedelic fish and long-distance elephant calls
- By Amanda Bensen, Joseph Caputo, T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, May 2009
Some elephant calls are so deep in pitch they shake the ground. An elephant miles away can detect those seismic signals with sensory cells in all four feet. But a Stanford ecologist working in Namibia now says the elephant may prefer to "hear" the message in a different way: the ground vibrations travel directly from its front feet through its leg and shoulder bones and on to its skull and middle ear. An elephant brain can gauge where a seismic call is coming from by comparing the timing of the signals that the front feet receive.