Elephants have trunks because to allow them to smell things and breath, as well as to grab objects for the elephant to eat.
Elephants have a lot of iconic features. From gigantic floppy ears that in some cases allow for flight (although sadly not in real life) to their remarkable and maybe unrealistic ability to never forget anything; they have a lot going for them. But through it all, elephants have one feature in particular that outshines the rest. One magnificently gorgeous and well known characteristic. I’m talking about their trunks of course!
The reason elephants have trunk is that in truth they are amazing feats of evolution. An elephants trunk is actually just an especially long nose. Like, a REALLY long nose. They use their trunks for breathing and for smelling things, just like we use our nose! Except, unlike us elephants have the ability to grab things with their ‘noses’. This is because elephants have around 40,000 individual muscles in the trunk alone!
For reference, human beings have around 600 muscles in their entire body. That means that elephants have around 67 times more muscles in their trunks than humans do in their entire bodies. These muscles allow elephants to pick things up, usually some good grub for them to eat. African elephants have two small finger like appendages on the ends of their trunks that let them grab smaller objects, Asian elephants have only one.
Since African elephants live quite obviously in Africa, they have to be able to beat the heat. Using their trunks, they are able to suck up water and then shower themselves down to cool off! They will then cover themselves with a protective layer of dust.Yet another amazing use for an amazing feature of an amazing animal!
Other animals with trunks
Elephants have trunks and they are phenomenal, this much we’ve established. But do any other animals share this amazing body part?
Tapirs are a bit of a strange animal, but cute none the less. Pokemon fans may recognize them as the inspiration for Drowzee and Hypno, although real tapirs don’t steal your dreams or have psychic powers. What they do have though, is a trunk, albeit a small one. They use their little trunks to pick branches and clean any tasty leaves off. They also help tapirs to pluck delicious fruit so that they can have some food. I’m sensing a pattern here.
Anteaters are also slightly strange animals, but once again little cuties! They’re long trunk like mouths allow them to get their long sticky tongues deep into ant colonies. This extra dexterity and precision allows them to very quickly and efficiently eat as many ants as their hearts desire. Once again the pattern reveals itself.
So, in conclusion, if an animal has a trunk you can generally assume that they’re using it for some yummy food. Either that or they have a trunk because they like a nice relaxing shower!
And in case you want to learn some more amazing elephant facts, check out this fact file on National Geographic for more information on African Elephants!
Animal-Club provides animal parties or animal handling workshops. You will be able to see, learn and interact with many wonderful animals with the help of our presenters. Our mobile zoo has many friendly animals such as rabbits, tarantulas, geckos, vinegaroons and more, perfect for an animal party. We can also come over to your school for an animal school visit or arrange for an animal workshop with us where the children can learn about looking after animals and animal behaviour, and have fun too.