Humans have invented new and advanced ways of communicating with each other. Television, radio, telephones and of course email. You will be surprised to know that animals who seem to have very simple methods of communication – using their bodies and voices – are also capable of long distance communication.

How do Animals Communicate? [Illustration by Shinod AP]
How do Animals Communicate? [Illustration by Shinod AP]

Foot stomping and low frequency rumbling created by elephants can travel upto 20 miles and is used by elephants to signal other herds or members, says an article in the Hindu newspaper.

Seismic communication
An elephant often launches a mock charge along with stomps, frantic screaming and ear flapping if it feels threatened. Elephant researchers have discovered that there is more to such a mock charge than obvious to the eye.

Foot stomping and low-frequency rumbling generate waves in the ground that can travel nearly 20 miles along the surface of the Earth, the article said quoting a study in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA).

It is even more surprising to know that elephants may be able to sense these vibrations through their feet and interpret them as warning signals of a distant danger. These waves travel from their toe nails to the ear via their bones and special receptors (nerves which can receive signals like those in our ear) in the foot. This way elephants may be able to communicate over long distances, says the study.

Asian elephant couple in embrace
Asian elephant couple in embrace

Other animals known to communicate through such seismic signals include the golden mole, the elephant seal and a variety of insects, fishes and reptiles.

Fin whales are known to produce low frequency sounds which are used to communicate with other members who may be miles away. Researchers have found that even elephants can produce such sounds and use them as a method of communicating with other herds.

Caitlin O’ Connell-Rodwell, author of the JASA study points out that elephants can use their body like an antenna to sense the environment.

334 words | 3 minutes
Readability: Grade 10 (15-16 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: 5ws and h
Tags: #signals, #study, #travel, #waves, #frequency

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