The Social Director of the Animal Kingdom – Elephants and Memory

Have you ever been told that you have a memory like an elephant? In case you weren’t sure if it was an insult or a compliment, I have come to clear that right up – it is indeed a compliment [Tweet this!]. Elephants are considered to be among the most intelligent mammals in the animal kingdom, and one of their most unique features is their ability to recall – specific elephants, people, events, and places.

The Scientific American explains that elephant herds are usually led by the matriarch of the family who retains a great deal of social information about the herd. She knows exactly who the members of the herd are – who is present and who is missing. She can retain memory on up to 30 of these comrades and is immediately suspicious of unfamiliar new elephants who come along.

This acute memory ability is considered to be a central part of the elephant’s survival in the wild. Elephants, who live nearly as long as humans with a lifespan of around 60 years, are able to remember an event such as a drought or an attack even from decades earlier and avoid the same place or situation again, often saving themselves and their families.

Studies have even shown that elephants are able to recognize themselves in the mirror, something nearly no other animal can do. And just as they can remember a specific human who they had a liking for, they can also remember injuries and hold grudges. How’s that for a good memory?


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