The Elephant's Trunk


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While reading Caroline's blog about camels, I couldn't help but think of other animals who have strange features that enable them to live in their environments. I immediately thought of the elephant, whose trunk is very unique to its species.

elephant.jpgAn elephant's trunk is extremely flexible and muscular, containing about 40,000 muscles. Compared to a human's 639 muscles, this is astounding. An elephant's trunk has 6 major muscle groups which are divided into over 100,000 muscle units. It contains no bones. These trunks can weigh 400 pounds and can grow to be 7 feet long. An average elephant can lift 4.5% of its own weight using its trunk!

According to USA Today, the trunk may have evolved from a type of snorkel function when elephants were aquatic animals 30 million years ago. When submerged, elephants still snorkel, but this device has evolved tremendously. Now, the trunk enables elephants to lift a 300 pound log, pick up small food, suck up a gallon of water, bathe itself, play, obtain leaves from high trees, sniff for danger, and modify its voice by changing the size of its nostril. An elephant also uses its trunk to smell whether a female is sexually receptive. The trunk is not typically used for fighting aside from being a mere threat.

elephant trunks.gifAn African elephant has two "fingers" on the tip of its trunk, where the Asian elephant only has one "finger". While the African elephant is able to grab objects, the Asian elephant can only scoop up objects with its entire trunk.
elephant trunks2.gifThe trunk is the most sensitive part of an elephant's body, meaning that any damage to it could cost an elephant its life. What other animals can you think of where one damaged body part could cost it its life?


2 Comments

This topic is really interesting. I love elephants, but never realized that the tips of their trunks would be any different. This chart shows more differences between African and Asian elephants, like the fact that they have different numbers of ribs, ear size, and even numbers of toe nails.

This blog is very interesting! I would have never thought that a trunk could mean so much to an elephant. I always thought it was just plain funny looking. It's very interesting that a truck can be used for so much in life. I know as a human we have things that can be damaged due to the fact it would cost out lives but a trunk is right there and could easily be damaged. Although all elephants have trunks it think it is cool that every elephant has the same use for it but different ways of doing so. I just always thought that it was used in one way for the same things in all elephants.

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