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Re: Re: [humanism-174] Elephant mimics Korean with help of his trunk

From: Glen
Sent on: Sunday, November 4, 2012 4:28 PM
Speaking of elephants, I want to ask about something that may take our minds off the election for a change (as far as I know these are not Republican elephants). I've seen some videos showing elephants doing remarkable paintings, including some remarkable self-portraits. In some of the videos, the camera work is so poor you could argue that maybe someone was manipulating the elephant's trunk.  However, others seem to show the elephants actually doing a free-hand (or free-trunk) painting, with remarkably good proportions and even 3-D, overlapping legs. I am not sure what to make of this, since they are light years beyond the nebulous,  blotchy "art" I've seen chimps and other animals (including some humans) praised for. In fact, I'd say these elephants do more realistic renditions of themselves than 90% of humans could do. I'd like to ask other Freethinker what they make of this. I don't believe anyone gave the elephant some paints and a brush and they
 just started doing these paintings on their own. But do you think:
1. It's a total hoax - the elephant's are not really doing the paintings as it appears.  
2. They have been well trained to duplicate a picture but have no idea what they are painting. To me, even the dexterity to manipulate the brush so well is impressive.
3. They have been well trained to duplicate the picture, but also understand that they are painting an elephant.

I'd love to pursue this further, to see if any animal behaviorists have studied this phenomenon. If it appears that #2 or #3 are possible, I am wondering if anyone would be interested in trying to devise an experiment that could test which is the case.  

Here is one of the videos:­


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