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An impressive memory

By Floro Mercene

NEW experiments show that bot­tlenose dolphins can remember whistles of other dolphins they’d lived with even after 20 years of separation. Ravens are extremely intelligent birds, and they actually remember your face and your voice and connect it to any prior interactions, researchers say. One study that looked at a herd of Af­rican elephants found that the animals reacted negatively to the scents of a nearby tribe whose members some­times slaughter them. Elephants have also been known to remember human abusers several years afterward.

Elephants are not the only large animals with an impressive memory, French researchers say. Their study confirmed that horses are also able to retain information learned a long time ago. Horses possess excellent memories allowing them to recall their human friends after periods of separation. The bond with humans likely is an extension of horse behavior in the wild, since horses value their own horse relatives and friends and are also open to new non-threatening acquaintances. Once they learned something, they’re not going to forget it easily. And they’re not just going to forget it over time. For riders, that has both pros and cons. If you teach your horse something, he’s going to remember it for years. But if he has had a bad experience, he won’t forget that either and he can pull out his de­fensive mechanisms against that bad experience many years later.

Another study showed that horses can read human expressions and re­member a person’s mood. The animal respond more positively to people they have previously seen smiling and are wary of those they recall frowning. Researchers said what they have found is that horses can read not only human facial expressions but they can also remember a person’s previ­ous emotional state when they meet them later that day. Horses now have a proven memory for emotion.