How the elephant gets its infrasound

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

By Susan Milius, 13:34 PM 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 m...

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