Do Elephants Really Remember Things Forever?

Yes, at least when compared to any other animal. Such sweet and fascinating creatures:

Other researchers, who studied three herds of elephants during a severe 1993 drought at Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, found that they not only recognize one another but also recall routes to alternate food and water sources when their usual areas dry up.

Researchers concluded that the older elephants recalled a drought in the park [forty years previous] that lasted from 1958 to 1961, and how their packs survived the slim pickings by migrating to lusher areas a distance away. None of the elephants that stayed behind were old enough to remember the previous dry spell.

Elephants also apparently recognize and can keep track of the locations of as many as 30 companions at a time, psychologist Richard Byrne of the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland and other researchers discovered during a 2007 study at Amboseli.

Such “working memory” is “far in advance of anything other animals have been shown to have,” Byrne adds, and helps the elephant monitor the family units that move, forage and socialize together.

There was also this about their high degree of intelligence:

When it comes to smarts, elephants are right up there with dolphins, apes and humans, says WCS cognitive scientist Diana Reiss and colleagues at Emory University in Atlanta. They reported in 2006 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA that elephants, like the other mammals in that exclusive circle, are the only animals known to recognize their reflections in a mirror.



Fact or Fiction?: Elephants Never Forget

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