Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell is Co-founder/CEO of Utopia Scientific and an instructor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Stanford University in California. Research in the O’Connell-Rodwell laboratory focuses on communication through vibrations in large mammals.
In a previous blog, I discussed Dr. O’Connell-Rodwell’s research as presented in a feature podcast from The American Physiological Society. Her research on elephant communication sparked quite a bit of conversation. Therefore, I decided to invite Dr. O’Connell-Rodwell to be interviewed, and she agreed. Here is the final exerpt from our exchange. Her website is Utopia Scientific.
Dr. Dolittle: I’ve read a lot about how elephants are social creatures that teach their young different behaviors and how to survive. Is there any evidence that they teach their young how to “tune in” to these calls and how to interpret them?
Dr. O’Connell-Rodwell: Please see the video clip which I think illustrates this point very well. When the matriarch and other adult females in a family group freeze, the little ones follow suit and also freeze. Depending on the reaction of the adults, the young ones would learn very quickly how to interpret a corresponding vibration.