RESOURCES: How to Read an Elephant

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Science  28 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5709, pp. 491
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5709.491c

Elephants trumpet, rumble, roar, and produce a variety of other sounds, but their giant bodies are surprisingly expressive, too. Scientists and pachyderm fans can learn to interpret this sign language at ElephantVoices, hosted by two Norway-based researchers, one of whom has spent 30 years observing the beasts. The site's photo-packed Visual and Tactile Signals Database decodes more than 100 forms of African savanna elephant communication. An elephant that waggles its head usually wants to play, while a youngster will nudge its mother to ask for a drink. The site also includes a small archive of elephant sounds and backgrounders on why and how the animals communicate.

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