Fascinatingly, it would seem that our pachydermic friends possess self-awareness. The Self-Awareness Club is pretty exclusive. We’ve got us, some other apes, and bottlenose dolphins (by the way, dolphins are fucking badass). And now, apparently, elephants.
This leads the whimsical and optimistic side of me to imagine a future, some thousands and millions of years off, when descendant variations from all of us in the Self-Awareness Club give us three or more intelligent species coexisting and communicating in an impossible utopian future. Is the next step in evolution after self-awareness a gradual slide toward full-fledged intelligence? In the future, how many intelligent species will our planet produce? What are the chances that our direct descendants will still be around to interact with them? Will there be elephant-run space colonies?
Questions like these are what really make me (again in a fairly whimsical mode) wish that there were some sort of afterlife. As I tend to lament while intoxicated, I wish I could be around to see it all.
While doing some quick research for this post, I came across Wikipedia’s intriguing entry on elephant communication. Sub-sonic resonance that travels long distance in the ground to be picked up by other elephants’ feet? Nifty. Very nifty.