and those of the tourists riding on their backs. Because earthquakes and tsunamis generate low-frequency waves, O'Connell-Rodwell and other elephant experts have begun to explore the possibility that the Thai elephants were responding to these powerful events.
"Elephants may be able to sense the environment better than we realize," she says, pointing to earlier studies showing that elephants will sometimes move toward distant thunderstorms. "When it rains in Angola, elephants 100 miles away in Etosha National Park start to move north in search of water. It could be that they are sensing underground vibrations generated by thunder."
O'Connell-Rodwell began studying elephants at Etosha more than a decade ago. In July 2004, she returned with husband Tim Rodwell, a Stanford-educated physician, to oversee the most sophisticated seismic experiment to date--an elaborate field study funded by Stanford's interdisciplinary Bio-X program.
Joining them in Namibia were four colleagues with a wide range of expertise: Colleen Kinzley, general curator at the Oakland Zoo; Jason Wood, a Stanford geoscientist; Katie Eckert, a University of California-Davis veterinary student; and Dave Shriver, a University of Iowa law student ("I deal with animal harassment issues," he jokes).
Equipped with amplifiers, speakers, geophones and video cameras, the research team spent a full month performing round-the-clock tests designed to see how elephant herds respond when specific calls are played back through the ground.
The researchers set up camp at Mushara waterhole--a freshwater spring where elephants, giraffes, lions and many other species gather day and night to drink or bathe during the dry Namibian summer.
To avoid disturbing this remarkable parade of wildlife, and to prevent one of these large creatures from invading tents or destroying delicate electronic gear, the research team erected a 7-foot-tall cloth barrier arPage: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Related biology news :1
Contact: Mark Shwartz
. Scientists show that mitochondrial DNA variants are linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes2
. Scientists prove that disputed Korean stem cell line comes from an unfertilized egg and not cloning3
. Scientists move closer to bio-engineered bladders4
. Scientists find stem cell switch5
. Scientists discover new way to study nanostructures6
. Scientists a step closer to understanding how anaesthetics work in the brain7
. Scientists to make news at Computational Biology Conference8
. Accident-prone? Scientists link brain function to knee injuries9
. Scientists take next step in understanding potential target for ovarian cancer treatment10
. Scientists find brown fat master switch11
. Scientists identify 2 distinct Parkinsons networks