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Believing elephants into personhood

For decades, researchers were transfixed with the idea of humanizing great apes by raising them among humans and teaching them language. Emerging from the ruins and recriminations of the collapse, philosophy prof Don Ross has a new idea: Let’s start with elephants instead… Read More ›

Devolution: African elephants survive by shedding their tusks

A classic in devolution, actually. In Mozambique, it is estimated that 90% of the elephants have been slaughtered for ivory to finance a civil war that ended in 1992. But tuskless elephants seem more likely to survive: Hunting gave elephants that didn’t grow tusks a biological advantage in Gorongosa. Recent figures suggest that about a third of younger females—the generation born after the war ended in 1992—never developed tusks. Normally, tusklessness would occur only in about 2 to 4 percent of female African elephants. Decades ago, some 4,000 elephants lived in Gorongosa, says Joyce Poole—an elephant behavior expert and National Geographic Explorer who studies the park’s pachyderms. But those numbers dwindled to triple digits following the civil war. New, as Read More ›