What binds your family and friends together? You play, work, and hang out together, and you talk, talk, and talk some more. Did you know that humans aren’t alone in using language to build strong family and social groups?

Elephants roaming.

Elephants, the largest land mammals, have close families and complicated social lives. Scientists have figured out that language is one of many tools that elephants use to build these rich social structures.

Katy Payne and her colleagues at Cornell University’s Elephant Listening Project research the language of elephants. Ms. Payne is an acoustic biologist, or a researcher who studies sound made by living creatures. You have probably heard elephant trumpeting sounds. But back in the 1980s, Ms. Payne felt a kind of pulsing in the air when she was studying zoo elephants. This led to the discovery that humans can’t hear many of the sounds that elephants make. Ms. Payne and other researchers now use special equipment to analyze these sounds.

Would you like to learn more? Read about Katy Payne and the Elephant Listening Project here.

Last Updated Date: 
July 22, 2016