For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals
The biggest living and known land animal on Earth, elephants have gotten the attention of many humans and marveled us. This can be seen in how they were used in circuses, although they aren’t allowed, for the most part, any more for that use. In this post, we will uncover a couple of common and well-known myths of elephants, and whether they are true or not. The first on this list was inspired by a newspaper that my grandparents sent me, so I just wanted to give thanks to Grammy and Pop!
Nearly everyone has heard the myth that elephants are afraid of mice, right? Pliny the Elder said it, perhaps as a telling tale of how even the biggest of creatures have fears of things that may seem insignificant. Myth busters attempted to crack this one a while back, in 2012, and here is a link to the article. In the end, the myth was shown to be “plausible”, with no true conclusion being reached. Well, even though that may not be true, there is some truth to the phrase that elephants are afraid of small and seemingly harmless animals. An article in the New York Times concludes that elephants are afraid of bees. As it says, while a bee may not be a threat to an elephant’s thick skin by itself, you can see why the elephant may want to avoid a swarm of African Bees stinging their sensitive ears and eyes. In the article, it also says that scientists are trying to take advantage of this fear. They have helped stop elephants from being killed by putting fake beehives and real ones alike in the fields of farmers, where they often get shot and killed. But, when they put the beehives there, it keeps a staggering 80% of elephants off farmland and out of danger of the relatively small animal they have to fear the most: Humans. . Here is the link if you want to read more into it.
Verdict: Half fact, half fiction: Elephants may not fear mice, but they do fear other small, mostly harmless animals
Several sources have seemed to say that elephants, while they may not remember everything, have great memories, especially socially. Elephants have been observed remembering the scent of up to 30 different elephants in their herd, and being able to recognize each other after more than 20 years. And it makes sense, after all. Elephants are social creatures, and rely on their memory to help them. If you want to read more about elephants and their extraordinary memory, go here.
This one is simply cracked by the fact that elephants don’t have access to peanuts in the wild and must spend so much time eating that eating a tiny peanut would, from an evolutionary standpoint, be a waste of time. However, there doesn’t seem to be a straightforward, tested answer to the question besides just logic. You never know though; elephants might like peanuts like rats like peanut butter: for no reason!
Verdict: Most Likely Fiction.
While it is true that hippos, rhinos and elephants are all similar in the fact that they are all pachyderms, several sources have found that the closest living relative to elephants is actually the hyrax, a small, rodent-like creature that were described politely on Wikipedia as “thickset”, and boy, they were right! Just look at the picture below. Now, this relative relationship to elephants is obviously not in look or structure like the relationship to rhinos, but more based in “molecular and morphological” reasons. Who would have thought?
Verdict: Possibly not. Although nothing is set in stone, as with most questions about animals, elephants may be closer molecularly related to hyraxes.