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Thinking with their trunks: elephants use smell but not soun

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Larry Boy

on 9 May 2014

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Transcript of Thinking with their trunks: elephants use smell but not soun

Auditory cuing, Olfactory Cuing and olfactory exclusion
History and Hypothesis
Experiment 2
Where as the elephants did not follow acoustic cues in a two way object choice task, they were able to use olfactory cues in the same task to locate food. In addition, the elephants effectively made choices by exclusion when given only olfactory about the non rewarding option.
Experiment 1
Subjects: 7 elephants (6 females, 1 male) 6 - 25 years old
Table that extends with buckets attached, one baited one empty.
shook each bucket
table extended
one bucket removed by elephant
table was retracted
Control trial was identical without any cues
The elephants were not very successful
Subjects: 2 additional elephants (1 male 1 female) along with the original 7
Pencil sized holes in the lids
cable ties on buckets
15 second examination
retracted and cut
picked one bucket
Control trials were identical other than two additional translucent buckets placed in the outer bucket to block any olfactory cues
The elephants were very successful
Two way object choice paradigm

'Location Test'

'Exclusion Tests'

Great acoustic and olfactory abilities

Evidence points toward elephants using olfaction for physical purposes such as finding food.

December 18, 2013
Vol XCIII, No. 311
Key Terms
Experiment 3
Choice by exclusion
two-way object coice
Subjects: The elephants that were successful in experiment 2 (5 females and 2 males 11 - 42 years old)

Identical to experiment 2 except that two inner buckets were placed in the outer buckets every time and during the choice phase the lid that would have had holes in it were replaced with solid lids

the control trial was identical to that of experiment 2 with an addition of 5 seconds between the investigation phase and the choice phase

The elephants performed well in Baited < empty < control
Thinking with their trunks: elephants use smell but not sound to locate food and exclude nonrewarding alternatives
Great background Information
Effective control trials
Kept track of the elephants learning patterns in experiment 3
Elephants were previously exposed to the apparatus therefore the apparatus was not the reason for any of the negative outcomes

The elephants were from an artificial shelter in which they are fed by staff
Visual component in experiment 1
Auditory component in experiment 1 was not as affective as they could have been
Inference or avoidance?

Plotnik, Shaw, Brubaker, Tiller and Clayton
Acoustic Cuing
Olfactory Cuing
Olfactory Exclusion
When locating food in their environment elephants are more likely to rely on their sense of olfaction
Choices by exclusion

Plotnik, J. M., Shaw, R. C., Brubaker, D. L., Tiller, L. N., Clayton, N., (2014) Thinking with their trunks: elephants use smell but not sound to locate food and exclude nonrewarding alternatives. Animal Behaviour. 88, 91-98.

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