Elephant Alphabet – T is for Trunk

September 23, 2011

To appreciate the complex muscle coordination of a mature elephant, you need to watch it in action. I get mesmerized watching the San Diego Safari Park elephant adults pick up the last bits of hay from the ground. With the two finger-like tips, they sweep the thinly strewn hay into a small pile. Then they coil the end of their trunk around the pile and lift it off the ground. While curling the trunk up towards the mouth, the elephant seems to shift the hay closer towards the trunk tip so that it can more carefully place the hay into the mouth.

Also it is endearing to watch the ways in which the trunk is used to communicate between elephants. Some researchers or keepers describe the placing of the trunk tip into another elephant’s mouth as a greeting or kiss. The calves appear to get comfort from standing under their mother’s chin, with the long trunk sometimes draped over the calf’s side like a curtain. The trunk touch sometimes appears affectionate and other times more like a warning or dominance display.

My apologies for tardiness with the T post. I have been intimidated by the prospect of creating an infographic about elephant tusks. But I also think it is the kind of information that might be most helpful towards future elephant conservation. Also I realized I was not challenging myself with the visual content because the drawings felt repetitive.

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