For a September 6 study in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, a team of researchers trained 13 African elephants to produce an array of sounds when humans prompted them.
And this recall went beyond the ordinary — researchers were able to encourage the beasts to make a few strange sounds, as well.
Here’s how the elephants respond to human commands:
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The researchers write that this is only the beginning of understanding elephants’ abilities to learn verbal cues, as well as why they seem to have such strong control over their vocal abilities and can learn to make new sounds.
“The next step is to deepen our understanding of contextual and vocal production learning and the underlying cognitive mechanisms ... as many open questions remain.”