Elephant Communication



The Ways Elephants Communicate

In 1984 Katy Payne discovered that the largest land mammal, (elephants), at the Oregon Zoo communicated the same way the largest marine mammals did ... by using infrasound. 


Soon it was discovered elephants could communicate using infrasound for six miles!

But that isn't even the best part ...




Infrasound (also known as low frequency sound waves) are long, low, sound waves that typically fall lower than what a human can hear. Whereas ultrasound (the way bats communicate) are typically higher than what a human can hear.

There are, of course, lot of sounds elephants (and bats for that matter) make that we can hear but the true sophistication in their language lies in the silence we cannot.


Recording Infrasound

Infrasound must be played back at lower speeds so it can be heard. 


An infrasound meter records the sound as waves and this is one way communication is measured.

Elephants make all kinds of sounds that we can hear such as a:

  • Pip

  • Squeak

  • Squawk

  • Trumpet

  • Scream

  • Bellow

  • and a Rumble to name a few ...




A Remarkable Discovery

Dr. Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell discovered that elephants, in fact, hear through their feet making one of the most remarkable discoveries of the 21st century.

Elephants have a 'fatty cushion' in their feet that is actually a specific type of tissue which receives sound. It can pick up the slightest vibration in the ground.

Once Dr. Oconnell-Rodwell realized this she began experimenting and discovered that elephants were 'hearing through their feet' for nearly ...

22 miles!!!

Proving once again, just how little we know about these magnificent creatures.