(ORDO NEWS) — Most modern ethologists consider elephants to be among the most intelligent animals. Their brains weigh just under five kilograms and contain about 300 billion neurons. In addition, these animals have a very large neocortex, second in complexity only to the neocortex in humans, chimpanzees, and dolphins.
Asian elephants, in turn, have the largest volume of the cerebral cortex (responsible for cognition) of all terrestrial creatures. It is believed that the average IQ of elephants is approximately equal to that of a seven-year-old child. Their ability to create tools of labor is at the level of the hominid family. It is not surprising that elephants have a complex social organization, about which far from everything is known.
Scientists from the University of Exeter (UK) learned new details about the life of these amazing creatures and reported their findings in the journal the Proceedings of the Royal Society Bed and . For three years, they studied the behavior of 281 male African elephants from the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (Botswana).
It is known that males of many large mammalian species spend a significant part of their lives in groups of the same sex, away from females. In long-lived species, these groups can consist of individuals of completely different ages. The same was observed in elephants.
The researchers divided the animals into four age groups: adolescents (10-15, 16-20 years old) and adults (21-25, 26 and older). As it turned out, if there were fewer elderly individuals in a group, younger males behaved more aggressively (and more fearful) than representatives of groups in which older elephants predominated . The aggression was directed not at members of their own “pack”, but at vehicles, people, livestock and other types of animals.
“It appears that the presence of more knowledgeable, older elephants in groups may play a key role in keeping younger, less experienced males calm and in reducing their threat perception, which means less risk of aggression towards humans and other species,” concluded study lead author Connie R.B. Allen. This means that hunting for old males must be limited (it is often allowed precisely because of the age of the elephants).
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