How the elephant gets its infrasound | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


How the elephant gets its infrasound

Blowing air through a pachyderm’s larynx offers hints to low-frequency communication

2:04pm, August 2, 2012

Elephants don’t purr so much as sing when they unleash low-frequency rumblings at friends and foes kilometers away.

Too low for humans to hear, the infrasonic components of elephants’ calls have at times been attributed to a process similar to a cat’s contented thrum. But new measurements made by blowing air through the voice box, or larynx, of a deceased zoo elephant suggest that the mechanism is actually a (much bigger) analog to a person speaking or singing.

Cascades of fast, active muscle contraction give cats their purr. Biologists have speculated that some similar muscle twitching creates the deep throbbing of ele

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content