The Loh Down On Science

Bees!

And the elephant goes .... beeeee!?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

And an update on elephant language.

African elephants hate African bees. They turn-tail and flee at the mere sound of the
buzzers.

Meet Lucy King, from the University of Oxford. Using a wireless speaker hidden in a fake tree, she broadcast a recording of disturbed bees to elephant families in Kenya. The goliaths ran from the speaker, shaking their heads and tossing dust in the air--as if fending off attacking insects. However, they also made a distinct rumbling sound unlike any other elephant vocalization.

When King recorded it and played it to other herds? The pachyderms panicked! ... showing the exact same ear-flapping, dirt-chucking retreat--with no bees or other alarmed-looking animals in sight.

In other elephant words, the rumble means "Bees! RUN!"

Makes sense. Charging and trumpeting a bee, the way they would a lion, would be silly. There's
little one can do but grumble--and tell others to flee.

Now if they'd only develop a new phrase, like “STOP STEALING OUR TUSKS!” We can only hope.



The Loh Down on Science, online, at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology, and made possible by TIAA-CREF.

Follow us on Twitter at LohDown.


blog comments powered by Disqus