Elephants Outwit Humans During Intelligence Test

5 March, 2012 at 10:10 | Posted in Nature, Science | Leave a comment
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These pachyderm problem-solvers are among the world’s most cognitively advanced animals.

By Jennifer Viegas – Discovery News


  • An experiment reveals that elephants not only cooperate, but that they understand the logic behind teamwork.
  • Some elephants even figured out shortcuts that researchers hadn’t thought of to obtain food rewards.
  • Elephant intelligence and ability to cooperate at least equal these same skills in chimpanzees and dolphins, scientists believe.

Elephants recently aced a test of their intelligence and ability to cooperate, with two of them even figuring out ways that the researchers hadn’t previously considered to obtain food rewards.

The study, published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlights not only the intelligence of individual elephants, but also the ability of these animals to cooperate and understand the value of teamwork.

Scientists now believe elephants are in league with chimpanzees and dolphins as being among the world’s most cognitively advanced animals.

“Elephant sociality is very complex,” lead author Joshua Plotnik told Discovery News. “Social groups are made up of matriarchal herds (an older female is in charge), and varying levels of relatedness among members. Cooperation in elephants was most likely necessary in a context of communal care for, and protection of, young.”

“In the wild, there are fascinating anecdotes of elephants working together to lift or help fallen members, and forming clusters to protect younger elephants,” added Plotnik, a Cambridge University researcher who is also head of research at Thailand’s Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.

Read more: Elephants Outwit Humans During Intelligence Test : Discovery News


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