Home » News » Science&Technology » Asian elephant cubs show handedness in trunk behaviour earlier than adult usage of trunks

Asian elephant cubs show handedness in trunk behaviour earlier than adult usage of trunks

Asian elephant calves offer an interesting system to study the development of behaviour. They are born with a well-developed sensory system technically called precocial and are capable of locomotion hours after birth. However, they are dependent on their mothers for nutrition, physical protection, and social support for a prolonged period, allowing them ample time and opportunity to learn and perfect the skills necessary for independent survival. The calves can walk soon after birth but are incapable of using their trunk to pick up objects and pull grass.

Trying to probe the peculiarity of behaviour of elephants which stands out against many precocial species, researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India found that though their trunks take time to develop adult-like usage, they develop handedness (right or left-side bias) in trunk usage quite early. The study was published recently in the ‘International Journal of Developmental Biology’.

The team of researchers observed 30 unique calves from 11 distinct clans (female social groups) in Kabini Elephant Project in Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks from December 2015 to December 2017 to look at the development of trunk motor control, laterality — or side preference/handedness — in trunk usage, and various social and non-social behaviours. They found that whereas calves took about 6 months to achieve fine motor control of the trunk to pluck grass in an adult-like manner, even young calves — those below 3 months of age — showed handedness (right or left-side bias) in trunk usage. It suggests that such handedness might be innate in Asian elephants. This would be analogous to human infants showing right-handedness or left-handedness soon after birth.

In humans, the early expression of hand-preference and consistency in handedness have been linked to advanced language skills. The researchers plan to study if there is any advantage to having an early emergence of trunk laterality.

The JNCASR team also identified 81 unique calf behaviours and classified them based on their level of adeptness in expression. It was observed that as calves grew, they spent less time resting and more time feeding. Resting-related behaviours and certain grooming behaviours and, many social and exploration related behaviours were expressed by calves in adult-like adeptness from a young age, whereas behaviours that required trunk usage, such as feeding, developed gradually and were elaborately expressed when trunk motor control was sufficiently achieved (6-9 months). The researchers described the ontogeny of behaviour in Asian elephant calves for the first time in the wild.

The team also looked at mother-calf synchrony in behaviours. Since adults spend most of their waking hours in feeding but not the calves, mother-calf behavioural synchrony during the initial few months of a calf was low; however, as calves began to develop trunk motor trunk and reduced the time spent in resting, mother-calf behavioural synchrony steadily increased. Behavioural synchrony is necessary for two individuals to maintain cohesiveness, and, by extension, it is necessary for a set of individuals to remain as a group. This, along with a calf’s need for physical protection, leads to instances when mother and/ or calves take an active effort to synchronise their behaviours. As the physiological needs of a young calf that is growing up are starkly different from that of its mother, often their behavioural categories do not match; nevertheless, they almost always maintain close physical distance, the study pointed out.

About Indianindustry Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

x

Check Also

Bengaluru scientists fabricate invisible shield for electromagnetic interference

H G Wells’ ‘Invisible Man’ tweaked optical properties of the body to become invisible. Scientists ...

INST efforts to make magnetic hyperthermia-mediated cancer therapy as desired therapy for inoperable tumours

“The example from INST Mohali illustrates some of the compelling aspects of how Nanotechnology is ...

Indigenous Air Unique-quality Monitoring (AUM) Photonic System developed for Real-Time Remote Monitoring of Air Quality

World Health Organisation (WHO)’s reports show that the worsening state of poor air quality is ...

Shadesmart & Radiant Cooling technologies promote energy-efficient cooling in buildings

Indian building sector has realized the importance of energy efficiency but it is yet to ...

Equipment-free, a simple paper-strip based naked-eye fluoride ion detection and quantification kit in drinking water to evade Fluorosis-based disorders

Fluorosis is a crippling disease resulting from deposition of fluorides in the hard and soft ...

INST scientists develop simple economical nonsurgical prevention of cataract

Cataract a major form of blindness that occurs when the structure of crystallin proteins that ...

Active respirator mask & nano-sanitiser developed by SNBNCBS can help in combatting COVID 19

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the use of face mask an inevitable part of daily ...

Gravel geometry of the Indus river unravel its paleoclimatic history

 Researchers from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun, an autonomous institute under the Department ...

ARCI scientists develop next-generation biodegradable metal implants

The team is certain that the newly developed alloys are suitable for biodegradable stent and ...

DRDO develops UV Disinfection Tower

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an Ultra Violet (UV) Disinfection Tower for ...

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com