Elephants - the thoughtful Mammals

They can remember a friend or an enemy; the Temporal Lobe circulation is the amazing memory system that makes them never forget!

I had some interesting occasions to treat Elephants. Of course I have not specialized in wild animal medicine and during 80s, the learning opportunity was not there in India.
I am told by my professors that elephant is one species that  can understand that “You (the vet) have come to help to save them from suffering’’ and I am also told that while treating an elephant … “it is better to make them sit and do, especially while injecting medicine and giving drips into their ear veins, because elephant is powerful while standing to throw you out if they are upset… at least you can ran away by the time it tries to stand out…”
I am more amazed to learn about the kind of memory the elephants possess in the animal kingdom.
'An elephant never forgets' is a saying, so if a person has a memory like an elephant, he or she has a very good memory indeed. The fact that elephants have amazing memories has been known for a very long time from both anecdotal and observational evidence.

"An article from Karen McComb's experiments dealing with elephant memories describes an elephant trainer who released two captive elephants in Kenya more than fifteen years ago were being reunited: one of the elephants had been injured on the foot in the wild and was resisting help. Guides took Moore to the elephant in the bush and all it took was a call out from his friend and the elephant not only recognized his voice but the elephant came up to Moore (the elephant trainer) and laid down and allowed a veterinarian to examine him. The elephant knew they were going to help and trusted his friend: "he lifted up his foot and was totally passive while his rescuers put in syringes and operated for an hour or so."

Extensive observations have confirmed that elephants indeed remember injuries and hold grudges against their abusers. Elephant's Brain Temporal lobes have more foldings, so that they can store more information.
Elephants can recognize over 200 different individuals. This is essential, as females depend on one another for raising the young, more than in the case of other mammals. A mother can remember who is trustful and complex bounds are the bricks of elephants' society, while the memory is the cement. When two elephants approach one another, they emit a "contact appeal": if the other recognizes the appeal, it responds and approaches; if not, it starts to agitate and adopts a defensive position. This capacity of recognition lasts a very long time, even after one individual is dead.
An elephant's memory doesn't stow each detail of every stimulus ever encountered. Instead, the brain encodes what's necessary for survival, such as food location and family identification, in the same way that our short-term memory systems selectively discard or transfer data to our long-term storage [source: Trivedi]
The olfactory, or smell-related, region of an elephant's brain is extremely developed in relation to its other senses. Elephants can distinguish between the urine scents of up to 30 female relatives, even if they've been separated for years [source: Briggs]. This trait helps elephants stay together when traveling in large herds, with the urine serving as a bread crumb trail for the nose -- or trunk in this case.
While elephants' utilitarian memories help them retain essential survival information, they also allow these animals to recognize the past. Elephants' show signs of grief over dead relatives such as gently touching the corpses with their feet and caressing the bodies with their trunks [source: Shoshani et al]. In an experiment that involved showing different sets of objects to a family unit of elephants, the group responded most prominently to bones and tusks once belonging to a relative [source: University of Sussex]."
Let me share more about this wonderful creature next week and thanks,come again!


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