Hearing in the elephant (Elephas maximus)
ABSTRACT Auditory thresholds were determined for a 7-year-old Indian elephant. The hearing range extended from 17 hertz to 10.5 kilohertz. The results indicate that the inverse relationship between functional interaural distance (that is, the distance between the two ears divided by the speed of sound) and high-frequency hearing limit is valid even for very large mammals.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Rickye S Heffner, Jan 31, 2014
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ABSTRACT: Recent comparative data reveal that formant frequencies are cues to body size in animals, due to a close relationship between formant frequency spacing, vocal tract length and overall body size. Accordingly, intriguing morphological adaptations to elongate the vocal tract in order to lower formants occur in several species, with the size exaggeration hypothesis being proposed to justify most of these observations. While the elephant trunk is strongly implicated to account for the low formants of elephant rumbles, it is unknown whether elephants emit these vocalizations exclusively through the trunk, or whether the mouth is also involved in rumble production. In this study we used a sound visualization method (an acoustic camera) to record rumbles of five captive African elephants during spatial separation and subsequent bonding situations. Our results showed that the female elephants in our analysis produced two distinct types of rumble vocalizations based on vocal path differences: a nasally-and an orally-emitted rumble. Interestingly, nasal rumbles predominated during contact calling, whereas oral rumbles were mainly produced in bonding situations. In addition, nasal and oral rumbles varied considerably in their acoustic structure. In particular, the values of the first two formants reflected the estimated lengths of the vocal paths, corresponding to a vocal tract length of around 2 meters for nasal, and around 0.7 meters for oral rumbles. These results suggest that African elephants may be switching vocal paths to actively vary vocal tract length (with considerable variation in formants) according to context, and call for further research investigating the function of formant modulation in elephant vocalizations. Furthermore, by confirming the use of the elephant trunk in long distance rumble production, our findings provide an explanation for the extremely low formants in these calls, and may also indicate that formant lowering functions to increase call propagation distances in this species'. Competing Interests: Since two authors (Gunnar Heilman and Sean Hensman) are employed commercial companies the authors want to declare that they did not pay for using the equipment nor for doing research with the elephant at Bela Bela. Therefore, both companies had no financial interest concerning the research. The fact that these authors are employed by these companies does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.
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ABSTRACT: It is proposed that ambient noise of environmental origin ultimately limits, at a common level, the lowest auditory thresholds found in both the non-aquatic mammals (including man) and in the most sensitive birds, the owls (Strigiformes). Greater sensitivity than that found in these vertebrates is unlikely to have evolved since it would be of little or no adaptive value. However, whether sensitivity in a particular species actually approaches this limit depends upon the species' evolutionary origins, and upon its period of activity within the day.Behavioural Processes 04/1984; 9(2-3):205-221. DOI:10.1016/0376-6357(84)90041-X · 1.46 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The number of turns in the cochlear spiral and length of the basilar membrane in several mammalian species were compared with the octave range and the high-and low-frequency limits of hearing. Basilar membrane length and the number of spiral turns were not related. Among ground dwelling mammals, the number of turns in the cochlear spiral was more strongly related to octave range than was basilar membrane length. Basilar membrane length was inversely related to the high-and low-frequency limits of hearing. The best estimates of high-and low-frequency limits and octave range were derived from formulas which included both the number of turns in the cochlear spiral and the basilar membrane length as factors. The number of turns in the cochlear spiral was most highly correlated with the difference between the low-frequency limit of hearing and the lowest frequency mechanically analyzed by the traveling-wave envelope, peak-shift property of the basilar membrane [von Békésy, Experiments in Hearing (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1960)]. The coefficient of correlation for the number of spiral turns and the octave difference between the lowest audible frequency and the lowest frequency distributed as a unique point of maximum displacement along the basilar membrane was r = 0.997 (P less than .001) at 60 dB SPL. Mechanisms by which the spiral form of the cochlea may affect the motion of hair cells and the selective response of the tectorial membrane to differences among traveling-wave envelope slopes and peak locations were reviewed. It was proposed that in ground dwelling mammals, the spiral form of the cochlea extends the octave range of hearing and that through mechanisms such as these increases the sensitivity of the cochlea to frequencies below the low-frequency peak-shift limit of the basilar membrane.The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 04/1985; 77(3):1091-101. DOI:10.1121/1.392227 · 1.56 Impact Factor