Page last updated at 08:21 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

How elephant secret language is used to announce a birth

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There is more to the way elephants communicate than the well-known trumpet call.

The creatures also use a low-frequency 'rumble' - like a growl - which includes a component that is not audible to the human ear.

Using specially-developed acoustic software, researchers at San Diego Zoo in the US have discovered that pregnant elephants make a change to their low-frequency sound when they are about to give birth - thereby alerting the rest of the herd.

The other elephants then react by forming a barrier around the mother to protect her from potential predators.

Matt Anderson of San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research explains.

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