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Elephants Respect Old, Big Females
Discovery Channel ^ | January 23, 2006 | Jennifer Vieras

Posted on 01/24/2006 11:54:42 AM PST by billorites

In a female elephant gang, few animals bother the oldest and biggest of the group because they know she will not put up with any nonsense, according to a new study that found age and size determine wild female elephant hierarchies.

The study, published in the current issue of Animal Behavior, presents some of the first data on dominance and the social lives of adult, wild female elephants, Loxodonta africana. Females of this species hang out together in family groups for most of their lives.

Humans may shrink as they get older, but not elephants.

"Female elephants never stop growing, so age and size are almost always linked," said Elizabeth Archie, who led the research.

"Female elephants have two formidable weapons: their tusks and their huge body size. Tusks, horns and teeth are common in many species, but when these weapons are driven by a powerful animal that weighs thousands of pounds, the results can be fatal," she said.

GPS, Diet Reveal Elephant Habits Archie, a Smithsonian Doctoral Fellow in the Genetics Department at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., explained to Discovery News that although female elephants can seriously hurt, or even kill, each other, they hardly ever do so because younger, smaller elephants quickly learn to defer to the group's dominant female.

"A clear dominance hierarchy probably mitigates this risk of injury," she said. "For instance, if two female elephants both want to eat bark from the same tree branch, the subordinate elephant will simply back off because she knows that, if she were to challenge the other elephant, she would lose."

Archie and her colleagues collected behavioral data on free-ranging female elephants in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, and in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, during two separate studies over the course of 12 years.

While elephants would seem to have equal access to resources, which in this case are plentiful and widely distributed, the researchers believe hierarchies evolved because the animals squabble over desirable water holes, mineral resources, rubbing posts and high-quality foods, such as tasty tree bark, palm flowers and balanites seeds, all of which the females love.

Although the observed elephants occasionally would charge, chase, poke and push each other, generally they reserved their greatest aggression toward unrelated intruders. That is when the female group would band together to defend each other.

The most spats overall, however, occurred between mothers and daughters.

"Elephant mothers and daughters stay together in the same group and are often within a few meters of each other," said Archie. "We think this intense physical proximity is the main reason why mother and daughters fight so often. As one of my colleagues says, 'You'd fight too if you still had to live with your mother.'"

The comparison with humans does not end there.

She said that, like humans, "elephants form close social relationships that endure throughout their lives."

These relationships can also extend beyond the family group to include hundreds of other individuals. Many humans associate age with wisdom, as do elephants, which seem to respect that "the elderly appear to be repositories of ecological and social knowledge."

Jeanne Altmann, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, told Discovery News that the findings were "clear and well-supported by the data and are impressive for their consistency between two of the longest-term studies of individually identified elephant populations."

Archie and her team plan to investigate whether or not the close and enduring female relationships allow the females to produce more offspring that have better chances for survival.

Altmann said that such research, along with the current information, "not only sheds light on elephant societies, but on the evolution of female sociality more broadly" in other species, and perhaps even in humans.


TOPICS: Pets/Animals
KEYWORDS: ecoping; elephants; science

1 posted on 01/24/2006 11:54:43 AM PST by billorites
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To: billorites

2 posted on 01/24/2006 11:56:43 AM PST by SlowBoat407 (The best stuff happens just before the thread snaps.)
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To: billorites

That's not entirely true.

3 posted on 01/24/2006 11:56:48 AM PST by theDentist (Qwerty ergo typo : I type, therefore I misspelll.)
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To: SlowBoat407

Ya beat me by 5 seconds!


4 posted on 01/24/2006 11:57:15 AM PST by theDentist (Qwerty ergo typo : I type, therefore I misspelll.)
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To: billorites

5 posted on 01/24/2006 11:57:20 AM PST by NRA1995 (GOOOOOOO STEELERS!!!)
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To: NRA1995
Anuder....


6 posted on 01/24/2006 11:58:32 AM PST by Dallas59 ((“You love life, while we love death"( Al-Qaeda & Democratic Party))
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To: billorites

The Bumbling Behemoth

7 posted on 01/24/2006 11:59:14 AM PST by Irontank (Let them revere nothing but religion, morality and liberty -- John Adams)
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To: billorites

We are not a well group, are we?


8 posted on 01/24/2006 12:07:43 PM PST by SlowBoat407 (The best stuff happens just before the thread snaps.)
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To: billorites
Sorry but my impatience would not allow me to read the entire article. I had to immediately scroll down to the replies and voila, there she was!

Muleteam1

9 posted on 01/24/2006 12:08:07 PM PST by Muleteam1 (Knowing the past is like a tracer bullet. It reveals the path to the future.)
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To: billorites

I never knew my fear of my Mother-in-law was instinctive. Now I know. Doesn't help.


10 posted on 01/24/2006 12:24:58 PM PST by Ben Mugged (Unions are the stormtroopers of socialism)
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To: NRA1995

I always know ahead of time when a "Helen" shot is gonna show up!


11 posted on 01/24/2006 12:28:13 PM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (MAY I DIE ON MY FEET IN MY SWAMP)
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To: SlowBoat407

Every other post is a Helen Thomas pic...LOL...


12 posted on 01/24/2006 12:28:57 PM PST by RockinRight (Attention RNC...we're the party of Reagan, not FDR...)
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To: billorites

Nice to know that getting older and bigger can be a good thing...somewhere.

I shoulda been born an elephant.


13 posted on 01/24/2006 12:30:47 PM PST by najida (Purgeing the world of literacy, one typo at a time.)
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To: blam; Carry_Okie; Chanticleer; ClearCase_guy; cogitator; CollegeRepublican; ...
ECO-PING

FReepmail me to be added or removed to the ECO-PING list!

Didn't have to look to know the mug Helen Thomas would be all over this thread :)

14 posted on 01/24/2006 1:21:21 PM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: GreenFreeper

Respect for the big and old? Hurray, there's hope for me!


15 posted on 01/24/2006 1:43:26 PM PST by Chanticleer (May you be gruntled and combobulated in 2006.)
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To: PaulaB; Dashing Dasher; Auntbee; Maximus of Texas; BJClinton

Finally, I can get some respect!


16 posted on 01/24/2006 1:47:09 PM PST by Chanticleer (May you be gruntled and combobulated in 2006.)
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To: Chanticleer; PaulaB; Dashing Dasher; Auntbee
"Female elephants never stop growing, so age and size are almost always linked"

Couldn't have they just studied female humans and come to the same conclusion?
17 posted on 01/24/2006 1:50:38 PM PST by Maximus of Texas (On my signal, unleash hell)
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To: Chanticleer; najida; SweetCaroline; apackof2; peacebaby; phantomworker; PaulaB; ...
In a female elephant gang, few animals bother the oldest and biggest of the group because they know she will not put up with any nonsense...

Yep, that about sums it up.

;-)

18 posted on 01/24/2006 1:51:47 PM PST by Dashing Dasher (Saving the Republic - one joke at a time)
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To: Chanticleer; Dashing Dasher; Maximus of Texas
That is when the female group would band together to defend each other.

God Bless females!!!!!
19 posted on 01/24/2006 1:52:57 PM PST by PaulaB (How about never? Is never good for you?)
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To: GreenFreeper

I respect young, big females; is that the same thing?


20 posted on 01/24/2006 1:52:59 PM PST by editor-surveyor (Atheist and Fool are synonyms; Evolution is where fools hide from the sunrise)
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To: Maximus of Texas
Elephants are less scary.

Image hosting by Photobucket

21 posted on 01/24/2006 1:53:08 PM PST by Dashing Dasher (Saving the Republic - one joke at a time)
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To: Dashing Dasher

unlike humans who grow shorter every year.

The shorter I get, the shrewder I get. And I will strike quickly when cornered.


22 posted on 01/24/2006 1:55:05 PM PST by peacebaby (thanks for reminding me that it's not about me)
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To: Dashing Dasher

btw, did you know a person's ear lobes never stop growing?


23 posted on 01/24/2006 1:57:15 PM PST by peacebaby (thanks for reminding me that it's not about me)
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To: PaulaB

CHICKS ROCK!


24 posted on 01/24/2006 1:57:42 PM PST by Dashing Dasher (Saving the Republic - one joke at a time)
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To: peacebaby

Ear Hair? Ear Lobes? Nose Hair? Eyebrows?

But... not boobs!

WHY!?


25 posted on 01/24/2006 1:58:35 PM PST by Dashing Dasher (Saving the Republic - one joke at a time)
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To: peacebaby

Don't feet and noses keep growing, too? Or is that just me? :-p


26 posted on 01/24/2006 1:58:39 PM PST by Chanticleer (May you be gruntled and combobulated in 2006.)
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To: Dashing Dasher

They may not grow, but gravity sure takes its toll.


27 posted on 01/24/2006 1:59:20 PM PST by Chanticleer (May you be gruntled and combobulated in 2006.)
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To: Chanticleer

I don't think feet grow. Mine haven't. Noses may - for liers like Bill and Hillary.


28 posted on 01/24/2006 2:00:01 PM PST by peacebaby (thanks for reminding me that it's not about me)
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To: billorites

Today's Cryptoquote:

An elephant is a useful animal, with a vacuum in front and a rug-beater in the back.


29 posted on 01/24/2006 2:00:22 PM PST by Old Professer (Fix the problem, not the blame!)
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To: Dashing Dasher

34 long necks, dear.

they get loooooonnnnnger.


30 posted on 01/24/2006 2:00:34 PM PST by peacebaby (thanks for reminding me that it's not about me)
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To: Chanticleer
I used spend a lot of time standing on my head to combat the dangers of gravity. Now, I just fly inverted all day.

Image hosting by Photobucket

31 posted on 01/24/2006 2:00:55 PM PST by Dashing Dasher (Saving the Republic - one joke at a time)
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To: Dashing Dasher
the oldest and biggest of the group

Besides they make me look younger and thinner!

:>)

32 posted on 01/24/2006 2:05:31 PM PST by apackof2 (You can stand me up at the gates of hell, I'll stand my ground and I won’t back down)
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To: Chanticleer

Your nose and ears keep growing. Feet stop with the rest of the body.


33 posted on 01/24/2006 3:18:54 PM PST by Maximus of Texas (On my signal, unleash hell)
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To: Dashing Dasher

OMG, is that you?!!!! Now THAT!looks like fun. Got room for pax (passengers)? (I think I had a dream about hanging on to the wing of one of those planes one time!) LOL!


34 posted on 01/24/2006 3:22:15 PM PST by phantomworker (Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool..... Don't accuse me of your imagination.)
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To: phantomworker

Single seater... sorry!

But, I have a friend or two that can take you in their two seaters....


;-)


35 posted on 01/24/2006 3:32:02 PM PST by Dashing Dasher (Saving the Republic - one joke at a time)
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To: Dashing Dasher

Next time I'm in the Bay area, I'll have to take you up on that. Or if you take a trip to Seattle... I'm with approx 700 other statistical nerds right now in So Cal, Newport Beach. Got any planes down here? LOL!!!


36 posted on 01/24/2006 3:37:36 PM PST by phantomworker (Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool..... Don't accuse me of your imagination.)
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To: billorites

Well, I was going to crack a joke about my wife, but she reads here.


37 posted on 01/24/2006 3:38:04 PM PST by Palladin (Senator Biden is a Moron with a capital "M".)
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To: phantomworker

Sent Private Mail...


38 posted on 01/24/2006 3:39:21 PM PST by Dashing Dasher (Saving the Republic - one joke at a time)
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To: billorites

Why on Earth hasn't the web been cleansed of photos of Helen Thomas? If ever I would vote for censorship, that would be the reason. I think Congress needs to work on that next session; I mean, they waste my money on lesser things...

Great article. Sending it on to my MIL (whom I LOVE) right now, LOL! :)


39 posted on 01/24/2006 3:42:59 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Dashing Dasher

You know, just for your consideration, statistics nerds are a whole untapped area of men. LMAO! Just a little smile and they fall all over you. LOL!!! Might be worth a ride out here.... LOLOL!! Lord, help me!!!!


40 posted on 01/24/2006 3:47:14 PM PST by phantomworker (Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool..... Don't accuse me of your imagination.)
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To: GreenFreeper
" Didn't have to look to know the mug Helen Thomas would be all over this thread :)"
Poor broad just can't get away from being so famouse. She probably is a sweet old nanna in real life outside the media circles.
41 posted on 01/24/2006 6:18:04 PM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: najida
I shoulda been born an elephant.

....Then who would make us laugh if you were ,off in Africa or a zoo, and not here???

42 posted on 01/24/2006 9:13:07 PM PST by SweetCaroline (Grandchildren are GOD'S way of compensating us for growing old. THANKS GOD!)
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To: Dashing Dasher

Yep!


43 posted on 01/24/2006 9:15:12 PM PST by SweetCaroline (Grandchildren are GOD'S way of compensating us for growing old. THANKS GOD!)
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To: SweetCaroline

I'd send you funny paintings.

We elephants can do that, you know ;)


44 posted on 01/25/2006 5:50:40 AM PST by najida (Purgeing the world of literacy, one typo at a time.)
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