Elephants – Largest Land Mammal

September 24, 2006 at 8:40 am 9 comments

 When you think “elephant,” you probably think “trunk.” An adult African elephant’s trunk is about seven feet (two meters) long! It’s actually an elongated nose and upper lip. Like most noses, trunks are for smelling. But they’re also for touching and grasping.When an elephant drinks, it sucks as much as 2 gallons (7.5 liters) of water into its trunk at a time. Then it curls its trunk under, sticks the tip of its trunk into its mouth, and blows. Out comes the water, right down the elephant’s throat.

Since African elephants live where the sun is usually blazing hot, they use their trunks to help them keep cool. First they squirt a trunkful of cool water over their bodies. Then they often follow that with a sprinkling of dust to create a protective layer of dirt on their skin (think elephant sunscreen!).

Elephants pick up and spray dust the same way they do water—with their trunks. Elephants also use their trunks as snorkels when they wade in deep water.

An elephant’s trunk is controlled by many muscles. Two fingerlike parts on the tip of the trunk allow the elephant to perform delicate maneuvers such as picking a berry from the ground or plucking a single leaf off a tree. The elephant can also use its trunk to grasp an entire tree branch and pull it down to its mouth. Elephants also use their trunks to yank up clumps of grasses and shove the greenery into their mouths.

When an elephant gets a whiff of something interesting, it sniffs the air with its trunk raised up like a submarine periscope. If threatened, an elephant will also use its trunk to make loud trumpeting noises as a warning.

Elephants are social creatures. They sometimes “hug” by wrapping their trunks together in displays of greeting and affection. Elephants also use their trunks to help lift or nudge an elephant calf over an obstacle, to rescue a fellow elephant stuck in mud, or to gently raise a newborn elephant to its feet. And just as a human baby sucks its thumb, an elephant calf often “sucks its trunk” for comfort.

Text by Catherine D. Hughes © 1996-2006 National Geographic Society


Entry filed under: Mammals.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lina  |  September 11, 2007 at 8:12 pm

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  • 2. Doncella Thomas  |  October 20, 2007 at 10:33 am

    I love elephants! I think they show God’s majestic creations better than any other animal. They are huge, graceful mothers and yet can show such power in a seconds notice. Our God does that. When I watch an elephant walk it gives me great joy, whether it is in person or on TV. Nothing compares to what they are so thanks for sharing them with me. I have a collection of keepsakes that overwhelms other people, but luckily they keep adding to it. My dream is to go to a refuge and help bathe and care for them for a while some day, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon! I can still enjoy the majesty of God’s creation!

  • 3. E. W.  |  October 30, 2007 at 12:12 am

    There is no god, but elephants and all animals are amazing. When I see an elephant I see a close relative; when I see a fly I see a more distant relative, but they are both beautiful. The universe, from the sub-atomic particles to the superclusters, and the voids between, is an amazing godless thing, and I love Nature. I just wish people would realise that they are part of all this too. We should take responsibiltiy for the things we do to the planet, because once we’ve destoryed the beauty of it all, its gone forever, and there’ll be no Creator to bail us out.

  • 4. RIBOUCHON Alain  |  February 5, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Il not speak english! Je trouve la phot de la trompe très belle.
    La vendez-vous en grandeur réelle?
    Je suis passioné par ces animaux . J’ai pris l’éléphant comme symbole ( logo) de ma société de formation. Contactez-moi si toutefois vous vendez ces photos.
    Merci d’avance . Bien cordialement
    Alain ribouchon

  • 5. RIBOUCHON Alain  |  February 5, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Peut-on acheter la photo de la trompe enroulée?
    Merci de me repondre meme en anglais

  • 6. William Boune  |  March 3, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    I am at awe of the intelligence and strength of these majestic creatures. I recently came upon a website I will list here which appalled me at the callousness of offering safaris where one can shoot elephants with a bow and arrow. This is a true crime. http://www.goshawkadventures.com/blog/2007/06/13/bowhuntress-takes-an-elephant/#more-17

    I hope that this posting causes a stir for them.

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  • 8. Elephantlvr  |  July 15, 2009 at 1:05 am

    I love elephants! They are so amazing. They are adorable and so very similar to us people, yet completely different. For E.W. i have a question. How can you see all that there is to the world and know that there are creatures as amazing as elephants and that our world is so complex and beautiful and vast, but still nothing compared with the universe and say that there isn’t something bigger than us out there? It’s insane to believe that there isn’t a god, especially when the scientists who support other theories still cannot agree or come up with definitive proof that we could have been formed any other way. Elephants and their incredible array of emotions and behaviors are just one of so many examples too numerous to count that prove we have been created and that our existence is not just chance.

  • 9. gerryslater27629  |  April 9, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Hey thanks all for getting this started! It’s great so see so many books I admire, and others I’d love to learn about … but I don’t mean this to be an Click https://zhoutest.wordpress.com/

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