D: Does someone have pizza in here? I could have sworn I just caught a whiff of pepperoni.
Y: A delivery guy did come by earlier, but I think he delivered a pizza to the opposite side of the building. I don’t smell anything.
D: I can sniff out pizza anywhere.
Y: You’d fit right in with African elephants, Don. Scientists recently found that, along with using their trunks to breathe, communicate, and lift objects, they also use them to sniff out their preferred foods over long distances.
D: Well Yaël, it sounds like a useful skill when you can’t just order delivery.
Y: Scientists in South Africa collected eleven plants they knew wild African elephants ate in the wild. They knew that elephants really liked six of those plants, and weren’t as crazy about the remaining five. For the first experiment, researchers hid plant samples in two black plastic bins, and observed which plants the elephants picked. When one bin had a preferred food and the other had a non-preferred food, the elephants tended to pick the bin with the preferred food. They had a harder time choosing when the choice was between two preferred foods and two non-preferred foods. In another experiment, researchers placed the elephants in a Y-shaped maze that had a different plant sample at the end of each 23-foot arm. The elephants always made their way toward their preferred plants. Even when the two samples were close on the scale of preference, they chose the one they liked better.D: Well, I can’t beat that, but I’m going to see if I can do some foraging of my own.