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What are they saying?

Hi, it’s Joyce again

Last week I mentioned that I was making some MP3 sound files as stimuli for playback experiments that Petter and I will carry out when we are in Amboseli. I have just completed preparing them and I thought perhaps you might like to listen to one or two. Elephants produce quite a range of trumpeting sounds, but they trumpet only in specific circumstances. For instance, trumpets are associated with play, with social excitement, with anti-predator behavior, and with alarm or surprise.

Inexperienced filmmakers tend to overlay trumpets whenever they have an image of elephants doing anything. An elephant walking slowly along trumpeting is like a person calmly eating dinner while screaming; it looks so out of place!

What we have noticed is that not all trumpets are alike. Trumpets have a different tone and emphasis depending upon what the elephant is doing. Petter and I think that we are pretty good at telling what an elephant might be up to just by listening to the sound of its trumpet. Through the reactions of elephants to playbacks we are going to test whether elephants can tell the difference, too. We wonder how good you are at discriminating. Be aware that these short vocalizations may not play well on your system, and that we are having some technical challenges with audio files on the blog that we will have to look more into.

Elephant 1: {audio}playtrumpet.mp3{/audio}

Elephant 2: {audio}antipredator.mp3{/audio}

Which one of these elephants do you think was chasing a lion?
Which one was playing?