An elephant's trunk is undoubtedly one of the most unique and fascinating appendages in all of the animal kingdom. But just how useful is it? Well, it serves the same functions as a human's arm, nose, and tongue. The trunk is a specialized organ known as a "muscular hydrostat." It doesn't have any bones or joints, but it does contain some 40,000 muscles. Compare that to the entire human body, which contains less than 700 skeletal muscles. But although its structure is more like a tongue, an elephant's trunk is an amazingly high-powered nose, with arguably the best sense of smell of any animal. Elephants have around 2,000 olfactory genes (more than twice as many as a bloodhound) and they are even able to sniff out landmines. And besides serving as a nose, the trunk also functions as an arm, able to lift up to 770 lbs (350 kg) while also performing delicate tasks such as pulling out vegetation and even cracking peanut shells. You can also add trumpet and hose to the long list of extraordinary trunk abilities, with elephants able to produce noises as loud as 112 decibels (dB) and suck up nearly 10 quarts (9.5 liters) of water.
The amazing elephant's trunk:
- Elephants have finger-like extensions at the ends of their trunks that allow them to grasp food and bring it up to their mouths. African elephants have two, while Asian elephants only have one.
- Elephants can use their trunks as a snorkel, allowing them to cross deep rivers by holding their trunks aloft.
- Baby elephants often trip over their own trunks before they learn how to properly use them.