An elephant’s most remarkable feature are it long trunk and fan-like ears. The trunk is actually an extended, highly flexible nose that an elephant uses to pick up food, carry water to its mouth, greet other elephant, pick up heavy objects and lots of other things. The ears, which are covered with blood vessels, help it to keep cool, elephants also have a giant teeth called tusks, which they use for digging or for defence.

An elephant’s heart constitutes about 0.5% of the animal’s total body weight, so if an elephant weighs 10,000 lb, then the elephant’s heart would be expected to weigh 50 lb – if an elephant weighs 4500 kg, then that elephant’s heart may weigh 27 kg.

The intestines of an elephant may be 19 meters in length, or more than 60 feet long. At 5 inches, or 12.7 centimeters long, elephants have the longest eyelashes in the world. The brain of an elephant is larger than that of any other land mammal, weighing between 8 and 12 pounds, whereas a human’s brain weighs 3 pounds on average. The growth and development of an elephant’s brain is similar to that of a human’s. Both are born with small brain masses. Similar to a human being, there is considerable growth and development in the brain as a young elephant grows up. As the mass of the brain increases so does the learning ability of young elephants. Brain size provides a rough measure of mental flexibility; large mammalian brains are associated with superior intelligence and complex social behavior.

The elephant’s body has a number of special features because it is so large and heavy. The skull, parts of which are six inches thick, contains many air spaces making the inside appear something like a honeycomb or sponge. This adaptation has allowed the skull to grow to a large size without enormous weight. The legs of an elephant are in an almost vertical position under the body, like the legs on a table. This design provides strong support for the massive body and huge weight that the legs have to carry. It also allows elephants to sleep standing up without the risk of their legs buckling.

Generally, the size of the ears is directly related to the amount of heat dissipated through them. The difference in ear size between African and Asian elephants can be based on their geographic range. The African elephant usually lives in a hotter, sunnier climate than the Asian elephant and needs larger ears to aid in thermoregulation.

Although ears help to regulate body temperature in both species, they are more effective in African elephants in that regard because the ears are larger. Flapping the ears helps to cool an elephant in two ways. In addition to enabling the ears to act as a fan and move air over the rest of the elephant’s body, flapping also cools the blood as it circulates through the veins in the ears. As the cooler blood re-circulates through the elephant’s body, the animal’s core temperature will decrease several degrees.

The hotter it is the faster the elephants will flap its ears. On a windy day, however, an elephant may find it easier to simply stand facing into the wind and hold its ears outward to take advantage of the breeze.

An elephant may also spray water on its ears, which also will cool down the blood before it returns to the rest of the body. Large ears also trap more sound waves than smaller ones.

Elephants may feed for up to 16 hours a day. In the wild one animal can consume as much as 600 pounds of food in a single day, although 250 – 300 pounds is a more typical amount. In a zoo, a typical adult elephant may eat 4-5 bales of hay and 10 – 18 pounds, or 4.5 to 8 kg, of grain a day. This amounts to a yearly quantity of more than 29,000 kg of hay and 2700 kg of feed per animal, The normal daily water consumption is 25 – 50 gallons per animal, or 100 – 200 liters.

Credit : International elephant foundation 

Picture Credit : Google 

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