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Mouth And Trunk

Elephants have a small mouth and a large, mobile tongue which cannot extend past the short lower lip. Contributing to the elephant's unique appearance is its long, strong, flexible trunk, which is a fusion and elongation of the nose and upper lip. The trunk, with no bones and more than 100,000 muscles, is so strong and flexible it can coil like a snake around a tree and uproot it. At the end of this mighty "limb," which trails on the ground unless curled up at the end, are two nostrils and flexible finger-like projections. The tip is so sensitive and dexterous it can wipe a grain of sand from the elephant's eye and detect delicate scents blowing in the breeze. Using this remarkable appendage, an elephant can feed by plucking grass from the ground, or foliage from a tree, placing it in its mouth. Water drawn up the trunk may be squirted into the mouth for drinking, or sprayed over the body for bathing and cooling. Loud trumpeting sounds and soft, affectionate murmurs can echo through the trunk. The trunk is also used to tenderly discipline, caress, and guide young offspring, to stroke the mate, to fight off predators, and to push over trees during feeding. The trunk is clearly an essential organ. It is also sometimes the object of attack by an enemy, and damage to it causes extreme pain and can lead to death.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Electrophoresis (cataphoresis) to EphemeralElephant - Evolution, Body, Limbs, Head, Mouth And Trunk, Teeth, Ears, Group Structure - Eyes, Social behavior, Death