Study: Elephants Think with Their Trunks

By Colleen Oakley | December 30, 2013

ThinkstockTheir ears may be huge, but elephants surprisingly rely more on their sense of smell than other senses to find food and solve other puzzles, say researchers from the University of Cambridge.

"This is one of the first times, to our knowledge, that elephants were shown to use olfaction [smell] in a basic intelligence test," said Joshua Plotnik, an animal behavior scientist who led the study. The results offer insights into how elephants think and could be used to figure out ways they might be dissuaded from raiding farmers' food.

The authors also suggest that scientists may underestimate the smarts of pachyderms (and other animals) by relying too much on intelligence tests tied to sights or sounds, instead of smells."[This study] shows just how primate-centric some of our cognitive tests really are," adds Yale evolutionary psychologist Laurie Santos. "If we really want to understand elephant cognition, we need to start thinking outside the visual-auditory box." - Read it at National Geographic

More on Vetstreet.com:
* 5 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
* How Old Is Your Pet in People Years?
* Secret Sex Lives of Animals
* 7 Animals With Very Long Life Spans