What does people fascinate about the elephants?
It’s neither the mass, nor the big ears, which make the elephant so likeable for most people, but it’s the trunk.
All people, whether adults or children, are fascinated by the trunk.
When in direct contact with the elephant, most adults and children even have the feeling that the trunk is an independent creature.
What does the trunk consist of?
The trunk is composed of the nose and of the upper lip.
At the end of the trunk, the African elephant has 2 “fingers”, the Asian elephant has 1 “finger”. However the Asian elephants are not less skilful with their trunks than the African elephants – but sometimes they approach things a little bit differently.
Though the trunk does partly consist of the nose, it does not have a nasal bone or any other bone. The elephant trunk consists of approximately 40,000 muscles, which group themselves round the nose tubes.
The number of muscles in an elephant’s trunk must be so enormous. Otherwise I can’t explain the skill and sensitivity, but on the other hand I can’t explain the power and violence of the trunk. With its trunk an elephant can pick up a blade of grass but can also strike like a boxer.
I don’t think anyone has counted and named the number of muscles absolutely accurately yet. That would be a huge challenge for a vet doctoral student.
Do elephants breathe and drink by their trunks?
In the trunk of the elephants there are also two nostrils, through which the elephants breathe.
But the elephants can also soak up up to 8 litres of water into these nostrils and then blow it into their mouth. But, unlike people think sometimes by mistake, they do not drink the water directly through their trunks. This would cause the same cough reflex for the elephants like for humans.
Young elephants drink their mother’s’ milk directly through their mouth and not through their trunk.
What does the trunk of a new-born elephant look like?
Regarding the complex structure of the trunk, it is not surprising that new-born elephants first have to learn how to use this multi-functional organ. It happens that young elephants tread on their own trunks and then scream like a stuck pig, because they don’t know, where the pain comes from and how to get rid of it.
That’s why the trunk is still relatively short after the birth and stretches just a few days later.
What do elephants the trunk need for?
Elephants use their trunk as a hand for the preparation of the food, for picking up the food or an object and – of course – as an olfactory organ.
Moreover the trunk serves as an indicator for the mood of an elephant. The elephant can fend off other elephants by its trunk or can use the trunk as a punching or thrusting weapon.
By its trunk the elephants smells at its conspecifics and at its environment and the trunk is an important means of communication.