Cognitive abilities in elephants

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Everybody knows elephants are intelligent – everybody, that is, except for evolutionary psychologists. The popular characterization of these large, long-lived, very social mammals is that they have fantastic memories and are considered somehow “special,” but the scientific evidence behind this reputation is somewhat lacking, with there having been relatively few attempts to study elephant cognition during the twentieth century. Fewer than 20 manuscripts detailing novel studies of elephant cognitive abilities had been published by the end of the first decade of this millennium (Byrne, Bates, & Moss, 2009), though a gradually increasing research effort is now resulting in progress.

So why, as psychologists, are we even interested in elephants, animals with which we have not shared a common ancestor for around 105 million years (Hedges, 2001; Murphy et al., 2001)?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior
EditorsLance Workman, Will Reader, Jerome H. Barkow
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781108131797
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2020

Publication series

NameCambridge Handbooks in Psychology
PublisherCambridge University Press

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