Elephant Scientific Research
Through elephant research we have been able to learn so much about their history and how they survive. There is evidence to suggest they have been around since 200 B.C., slowly evolving in order to continually survive. What has been observed is that there are three distinct sections of the life of an elephant. The first one is when they are born and they are in a baby stage.
They will remain in that stage for about 14 years, with their mother caring for them for the first couple of years of life. The entire herd of females though will jump in when necessary to care for the offspring. There is plenty for them to learn in order to survive this type of life. Still, the baby stage is one that is also full of fun, adventure, and plenty of affection.
The next stage is adolescence. The is when the males of the herd start venturing off for short spans of time. Eventually they will leave the herd and not return. They will live alone or join a small group of other males out there. The females will remain in the same herd forever.
As elephants get up in years, about 50, they will stop the mating process. Many of these older individuals in this adult stage end up suffering from a variety of medical problems. As you can see the stages of life for elephants are extremely similar to those of humans. This is one of the reasons why doing research on their lives is so very interesting to us.
A great deal of the research out there about elephants has been studying their social interactions. They are so much like humans in the way that they form very deep emotional bonds. They are also known to express a variety of emotions among their herd as humans do. This type of research has helped us to offer them the best living quarters in captivity. They need to have both their physical and emotional needs met there in order to thrive.
The thirst that elephants seem to have for information though is very interesting. It goes well beyond just simple curiosity. In fact, it is for this reason that so many types of testing have been done about the learning process for elephants. Through games and other types of materials we have seen that they can absorb mountains of information. They also have memories that are classified as the best in the world, even better than a human’s ability.
Since some elephants are known to attack humans, there are research programs that cover this as well. What is extremely fascinating is that just about every single elephant attack on humans can be linked back to some type of direct injustice to them. The fact that they can remember individuals involved even decades later is absolutely phenomenal.
Current research for elephants is focusing on how to help them to survive. Their natural habitat continues to be destroyed and that is a huge problem. Effective management programs for those that are still out there is essential. The problem though is that there is such conflicting debates about the best way to do this. Many groups continue to share their thoughts on this. The fear is that conservation groups are wasting time working against each other and that means no solution is in place.
There are many programs in place too that evaluate the impact that captivity has on elephants. The goal is to keep them as safe and as happy as possible. By carefully comparing their behaviors in captivity to those of elephants in the wild we can gauge how well we are doing.
Evidence actually shows that elephants have been in their present form for 5 to 5 1/2 million years. Of course very similar mammoths have a known history of near 20 million years, as far as we can and have measured.
Yet far earlier, the similar mastodon first appeared about 27 million years back.
That their shape / morphology and size was similar enough to recognise as elephants, suggests that the predecessor was also pretty elephant one.