Saturday, August 24, 2013

Elephants Display Musical Appreciation and Talent

Awesome. The herbivorous elephant has one of the largest brains on the planet, built entirely from nutrients found in plant foods. I have never seen any dogs, cats, or other carnivores playing musical instruments or responding to music the way these wild herbivores do.

The elephant has a 4.2 kg brain, about 3 times as large as humans or dolphins, and a cortical neuron count of 11,000 million, about the same as humans, and twice that of dolphins or chimps.  They build and maintain their brains without regularly consuming seafood, marrow, muscles, or brains of other animals, as do millions of humans around the globe who adhere to plant-based diets for philosophical or cultural reasons:  Seventh Day Adventists, Buddhists, Jains, Taoists, and Hindus [1].  

"Millions of individuals around the modern world, including some 2.5% of Americans and 4% of Canadians (American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada, 2003), consume a diet classified as vegan or vegetarian. There are also a number of religious doctrines that emphasize abstention from animal consumption, including Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, involving a significant percentage of modern human populations. In the case of these vegetarians, many have maintained such a restricted diet for generations. Neurological impairment under generational deficiency of DHA should result if dietary DHA is essential for neural function. Given that these populations experience normal brain growth and development in the absence of dietary DHA, it seems reasonable to question the nature of our dietary requirements for n-3 fatty acids. If preformed DHA is essential, and only significantly available from aquatic dietary sources, the expected outcome of a vegetarian lifestyle is the failure of neural growth and development. On the other hand, there is no evidence to suggest that the capacity for DHA synthesis in vegetarians is limited (Sanders, 1999). A logical explanation involves the sufficiency of LNA from the dietary intake of plants to provide sufficient DHA for the neural development of these populations."[1]

Here's part 1 of a longer documentary on the Thai elephant orchestra led by two scientists:


Stan (Heretic) said...

Re: Awesome. The herbivorous elephant has one of the largest brains on the planet, built entirely from nutrients found in plant foods. I have never seen any dogs, cats, or other carnivores playing musical instruments or responding to music the way these wild herbivores do.

Who cares what do those majestic animals eat? What difference would that make to their graceful way if they ate nothing but mushrooms?

Whales, to which elephants are related, are even more intelligent, have bigger brains and some eat animals, some eat plants, some eat both, so what?

Are you trying to preach? What for?


Don said...

Elephants simply illustrate that terrestrial mammals can build very large brains and exhibit a high degree of cognitive capacity while deriving all of their nutrition from plants.

They and the millions of humans I referred to provide evidence contradicting the claims that terrestrial animals in general, and our species in particular, require dietary DHA (from land or marine animal tissues) to build and maintain large brains. As detailed in the paper to which I referred, we have no evidence that humans require dietary DHA from animal tissue for neurological growth, development, and maintenance. I thought I would bring this evidence to the attention of my readers while also giving them an opportunity to enjoy the videos.

Stan (Heretic) said...

Yes but humans are not elephants.

Large herbivores have large brains, and large carnivores, predators also have large brains.

In case of elephants, their ability to play some music or paint is not a proof of superior or inferior intelligence, or superiority or inferiority of any kind; it is a proof of artistic abilities. Birds can produce music too.

All primates seem to be omnivores and monkeys do eat some animals, in small amounts.

Regarding DHA, an absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Some animals can synthesize DHA and EPA out of other stuff, some can't and have to consume it. If you want to bet that your body can synthesize them, then you can of course try on yourself but I would be VERY careful before recommend that to others based on beliefs rather than facts. You risk doing more harm than good! Do you have some new good DHA/human synthesis facts/papers/studies? The last time I looked, the rate of synthesis, of DHA/EPA (out of ALA) seems tiny and an estimate was uncertain ranging from 0.1% to 10%.

Stan (Heretic)

Anonymous said...


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Stan (Heretic) said...

Dr. Steven Nissen is too close to drug biz to trust IMHO.

Stan (Heretic) said...

Razwell, why obsessing about Colpo?

Anonymous said...

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Inform yourself, and stop the consipracy theory mindset......

Anonymous said...

Elephants are perhaps the smartest of all animals. They apepar to recognize the demise of their own and even hold rituals for them when they come across elephant skeletons.

My close friend is an EXCELLENT elephant keeper at the Miami Zoo.

In fact, the elephant at the Miami Zoo know me and approach me when they see me. This is due to my many interactions behind the scenes there courtesy of my friend.

However, Dalip, the 12,000 pound male, is dangerous in musth.

Chris said...

The issue with elephants is that the percentage of time spent eating. Elephants, compared to humans spend a higher percentage time eating food, simply because the energy density of plants is lower than that of animal sources.

It's interesting to note that our herbivorous cousins, the gorilla spend approximately 30% of their total time per day eating. I believe there is an estimate somewhere that they would need 733 calories more per day to achieve parity with human intelligence. I think that there may be an upper limit in this regard for intelligence for herbivores.

Look at the chimpanzee by contrast. It is pretty much the closest thing we have to a relative. It's an omnivore.

By contrast, there are other animals that are carnivorous that have also evolved very high intelligence. Dolphins are a good example and perhaps with a few million years of evolution, they could perhaps cross a barrier?