An African elephant trunk is a miracle of evolution. It pulses with hundreds of separate muscles that allow the crazy long schnoz lift barbells, uproot trees, and toss annoying lions into the atmosphere, all while weighing well over two hundred pounds.
According to a new study published in The Royal Society, the 200-pound nasal appendages can suck in three liters (0.8 gallons) of fluid in a second, an overwhelming flow velocity equivalent to twenty-four shower heads. Inhaling air at a stunning 330 miles per hour is required to move that much liquid so quickly. This is thirty times faster than a human sneeze and speedier than most high-speed trains.
More Details about the Loxodonta Africana Elephant Trunk
“It’s like a muscular multitool,” Andrew Schulz, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology and lead author of the study, tells Richard Sima of the New York Times. According to Karina Shah of New Scientist, scientists took high-speed video of a 34-year-old African savannah elephant called Kelly at Zoo Atlanta and examined her long nose’s suction capabilities to produce these fascinating new facts about the elephant trunk.
Kelly’s amazing intake exceeded the quantity of water that their calculations showed would fit inside the appendage, according to another test in which the scientists examined the interior capacity of a similar-sized, 38-year-old African elephant’s trunk. According to Sid Perkins of Science News, the researchers utilized an ultrasound to see what was going on within an elephant’s trunk while it was sucking up water. This indicated that the trunk’s nostrils were dilating, increasing the elephant trunk’s total volume by up to 64%.
Another experiment using rutabagas proved elephants’ aptitude to choose how to use their trunk depending on the task at hand. According to Science News, when the elephant was given only a few pieces of rutabaga, it scooped them up with ease using its trunk’s grabbing tips. However, when the elephant came across a larger quantity of food, the trunk switched gears and sucked the morsels up to be delivered to the mouth.
Featured image by Geran de Klerk