Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Review: Elephant Talk

Title: Elephant Talk
Author: Ann Downer

Website of author:

About the Book from the website above

Everyone has heard a bull elephant trumpeting, in a Tarzan movie or at the zoo. When we think about elephant communication, we think about that call. But elephant communication is much more complex and much more interesting that what we can hear with our human ears. Did you know that elephants also communicate through low-frequency rumbles we can’t hear? Or that they read vibrations in the ground through pads on their specially adapted feet? Or that they send signals to rivals and mates using chemical signals and body language?
Over the last twenty years scientists have found that complex social groups of long-lived, large brained animals often show a high degree of intelligence and use sophisticated forms of communication. Scientists had long known this was true of primates and whales, but they are now beginning to realize just how smart elephants are. Using high-tech listening devices developed by the military during the Viet Nam War, scientists are learning just how much elephants have to say. Researchers are studying elephants to try and tease apart their communication repertoire. They are discovering just how rich and varied elephant “talk” is—within a herd, between distant populations, and between elephants and other species… including us.
Elephants have been associated with humans for 4000 years, gracing our temples, working in our forests, attending our weddings, entertaining us in circuses, even leading the charge into battle. But now the elephants are issuing a distress call. They are on the brink, in ever-closer conflict with humans over land, hunted for their ivory. Can we learn to listen to the elephant in time to save them?

My Thoughts

For some reason I heard about this book and I instantly became fascinated in elephants. Just ask my wife as she was so tired of me rambling on about elephants. The book finally arrived in our library and I was so excited to read it. I skipped ahead of all my other reading tasks and books and late fees to read.

I loved it. What a cool book. Actually, what a cool animal! This massive beast of a creature is so intelligent. I learned so many things and more than anything else I have a new respect for this animal. the skills of elephants are amazing. I kept learning and learning while reading I have not done this in quite some time.

I never knew that elephants gather a cluster of long, thick grass to clean their ear canals.

I never knew about all the vocalizations and communication methods of elephants. Quite amazing.

I never knew they pooped over 300 lbs a day.

I never knew you could make paper from their poop.

I never knew that there are around 150,000 muscles in their trunk while the human body has around 8000.

I just never knew. And now I do and I feel so much better about.

Read this book. Great for anyone, even reluctant readers because the pictures are amazing and it is not saturated in a lot of scientific talk.

Off to watching animal shows with my kids. I need more books like this.
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