A group of international researchers have found that Asian elephants can distinguish which of the two foods contains more quantities by smell.
Previous studies have shown that elephants are one of the smartest animals and they have a good sense of smell. Much better than a dog. In this new study, the researchers tested an aspect of odor detection, an ability that no animal, including humans, had ever had: the ability to distinguish between two foods by smell.
The experiment put two barrels of sunflower seeds, which is a favorite of elephants. They locked the small holes in the lid on the bucket and let an elephant smell for a while. The researchers then released the lid and handed the bucket to the elephant again, noting which elephant chose to open first. They repeated several experiments on several different elephants and also changed the number of sunflower seeds in the bucket.
The researchers report that although elephants have never really seen anything inside, they obviously prefer buckets with more seeds. The team also found that the more seeds there are, the more elephants can pick the most elephants. They also found that males are better at determining the number than females.
The researchers pointed out that this is the first example ever to prove that animals can distinguish the amount of food by odor. They also pointed out that their findings may be useful in places like Thailand, where elephants are increasingly seen as an annoying thing when they encroach on human-occupied areas. So far, most efforts to deter them have been based on trying to scare them away (for example, with firecrackers). Elephant researchers point out that if there are better places nearby to set up for them in advance, they may be persuaded to go there.