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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Video: Old Female Elephants Make the Best Leaders
15 March 2011 8:01 pm
What good is an older female elephant to her herd, especially one in her 60s and well-beyond her prime reproductive years? She's the best leader and the one most capable of making wise decisions, according to a study of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Kenya's Amboseli National Park that was published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The oldest female in an elephant herd is always the leader. Researchers tested the decision-making skills of these matriarchs by playing recordings of lions roaring; they monitored the elephants' reactions to the roars of a single lion versus three lions for both male and female lions. Because of their size and heft, single male lions can pose a greater threat to elephants than do female lions. The oldest matriarchs proved best at recognizing a male lion's roar, as 66-year-old Joyce does in this video. When she hears the three male lions, she bunches her herd in a tight phalanx to ward off a possible attack. The study provides the first experimental evidence that the members of a herd benefit from an older leader—a discovery, the researchers say, that also shows how vital it is to protect the elders (who usually have the biggest tusks) from ivory poachers.
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