Friday, June 29, 2012

60+ Amazing and interesting facts about Elephants

Elephants are mammals and the largest land animals alive today. The elephant's gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal. At birth it is common for an elephant calf to weigh 120 kg (265 lb). An elephant may live as long as 70 years, sometimes longer. This male weighed about 12,000 kg (26,400 lbs.), with a shoulder height of 4.2m (13.8 ft.), a metre (3 ft. 4 in) taller than the average male African elephant. They are symbols of wisdom in Asian cultures, and are famed for their exceptional memory and high intelligence.  
Facts about Elephants
  1. Elephants typically reach puberty at thirteen or fourteen years of age
  2. They have offspring up until they are around fifty years old
  3. They may live seventy years or possibly more
  4. The interval between births is between two and a half to four years
  5. An elephant´s trunk, a union of the nose and upper lip, is a highly sensitive organ with over 100,000 muscle units.
  6. An elephant can smell water three miles away.
  7. The elephant is the only mammal that can't jump!
  8. Did you know that elephant's teeth can weigh as much as nine pounds each? Amazing!
  9. African elephants only have four teeth to chew their food with.
  10. An adult African elephant's trunk is about seven feet (two meters) long! It's actually an elongated nose and upper lip.
  11. Like most noses, trunks are for smelling. But they're also for touching and grasping.
  12. Elephant trunks can get very heavy. It is not uncommon to see elephants resting them over a tusk!
  13. Elephants cry, play, have incredible memories, and laugh!
  14. Elephants are sensitive fellow animals where if a baby complains, the entire family will rumble and go over to touch and caress it.
  15. Elephants have greeting ceremonies when a friend that has been away for some time returns to the group.
  16. Elephants grieve at a loss of a stillborn baby, a family member, and in many cases other elephants.
  17. Elephants are very light sleepers. Elephants sleep a maximum of four hours per day/night.
  18. Elephants sleep for about 30 minutes and then get up for something to eat and then lie back down.
  19. Elephants don't sleep together and in fact, they don't even sleep at the same time.
  20. In the wild, male and female elephants live separately. Females live in groups together and help each other raise their young.
  21. If the female elephant becomes pregnant, she will stay pregnant for 22 months.
  22. When the time comes, female elephant gives birth to her baby with the other females in the group standing in a circle around her.
  23. Older elephants in a group teach younger elephants manners and life skills.
  24. Elephants communicate through calls and rumbles that can be heard up to 5 miles away.
  25. Each elephant has a distinct voice that other elephants can differentiate from one another.
  26. Elephants never abandon each other. If an elephant is injured, the other elephants try to assist the elephant.
  27. If an elephant dies, the whole group mourns the death.
  28. They are clean animals and bathe every day.
  29. Elephants can pick up from the floor objects which are the size of a coin.
  30. Elephants don't drink with their trunks, but use them as "tools" to drink with. This is accomplished by filling the trunk with water and then using it as a hose to pour it into the elephant's mouth.
  31. Interestingly, the Asian elephant is more closely related to the extinct mammoth than to the African elephant
  32. When an elephant drinks, it sucks as much as 2 gallons (7.5 liters) of water into its trunk at a time. Then it curls its trunk under, sticks the tip of its trunk into its mouth, and blows. Out comes the water, right down the elephant's throat.
  33. Since African elephants live where the sun is usually blazing hot, they use their trunks to help them keep cool. First they squirt a trunkful of cool water over their bodies. Then they often follow that with a sprinkling of dust to create a protective layer of dirt on their skin, this layer of dust works as a sunscreen lotion for elephants.
  34. Elephants pick up and spray dust the same way they do water-with their trunks.
  35. Elephants also use their trunks as snorkels when they wade in deep water. An elephant's trunk is controlled by many muscles. Two finger like parts on the tip of the trunk allow the elephant to perform delicate manoeuvres such as picking a berry from the ground or plucking a single leaf off a tree.
  36. The elephant can also use its trunk to grasp an entire tree branch and pull it down to its mouth.
  37. Elephants also use their trunks to yank up clumps of grasses and shove the greenery into their mouths.
  38. When an elephant gets a whiff of something interesting, it sniffs the air with its trunk raised up like a submarine periscope. If threatened, an elephant will also use its trunk to make loud trumpeting noises as a warning.
  39. Elephants are social creatures. They sometimes "hug" by wrapping their trunks together in displays of greeting and affection. Elephants also use their trunks to help lift or nudge an elephant calf over an obstacle, to rescue a fellow elephant stuck in mud, or to gently raise a new-born elephant to its feet. And just as a human baby sucks its thumb, an elephant calf often "sucks its trunk" for comfort.
  40. There are 170 known fossil elephant species that inhabited the whole Earth, except for Australia and Antarctica. The elephants' ancestors appeared 50 million years ago in North Africa, were pig sized and resembled a tapir. Elephants' living closest relatives are sea cows, like manatees, dugongs and hyraxes.
  41. During the Ice Age there were more 6-7 elephant species, including mastodons in North America and mammoths in Eurasia and North America.
  42. Today there are 3 species: the large 4 m (13 ft) tall savannah elephant and the smaller 3 m (10 ft) tall rainforest elephant and the Asian elephant, a forest animal 3 m (10 ft) tall.
  43. In the savannah African elephant the weight difference between male and female can be of two tons, as males weigh on average 6 tons (up to 7.5 tons, the record is 10.5 tons) and females 4. This is the largest living land mammal. The Asian elephant weighs 5 tons in the case of the males and 3 for females.
  44. Elephants are now endangered. In Kenya, in just 10 years the population plummeted from 150,000 to 30,000 and in Zimbabwe from 80,000 to 60,000 (in the same country black rhino population dropped from 3,000 to 300). Even if in many African countries rangers are free to kill poachers, these can be often better armed. Today there are about 600,000 African elephants and 30,000 wild Asian elephants.
  45. An elephant herd can have 5-1,000 individuals and it is led by an old female, called matriarch. A herd can contain females and their calves. Young males are driven away from the family when mature, forming separate bachelor herds while mature bulls circulate freely from one clan to another in search for routing cows. The ties are so close amongst the member of a herd that elephants are known to mourn for their dead.
  46. The female gives birth every 4 years. The gestation lasts for 22 months. In 1 % of the cases twins will be born. The new-born calf is 33 in (83 cm) tall and weighs about 250 pounds (112 kg). The calf is suckled for at least two years. A cow usually has 2-4 calves with her, of various ages. Cows defend their young vigorously, charging any intruder. Sexual maturity is achieved at 14-15 years. Elephants can live up to 70 years.
  47. An elephant eats daily during the dry season 150-170 kg of food and drinks 80 litres of water, while during the rainy season they eat 200-280 kg of food daily.
  48. Elephants ingest regularly soil containing iron and bicarbonate. Savannah elephants eat mainly grass and woody vegetation (especially during the dry season) while forest elephants eat mainly fruit and woody plants. Elephants digest cellulose with the help of protozoa in the cecum and the thick gut. In Kenya, conservationists even made paper from elephant dung.
  49. They cannot survive more than 24 hours without drinking. That's why elephants are never too far from a water source. Water is also essential for bathing each evening. Elephants are good swimmers and will immerse themselves completely when they find water deep enough. By covering themselves with dirt, elephants protect themselves against insect bites.
  50. If water is scarce during the dry season, elephants dig for water in the sandy bed of a river that has stopped flowing.
  51. Elephant have only 4 functional teeth, 12 in (30 cm) long, which can be replaced 6 times. After the last replacement, the elephant can no longer feed properly.
  52. The tusks are not canines, but incisor teeth. In the Asian elephants, only males (and not all) are tusked, while in the African elephant the female carries smaller tusks. The record was a 10 ft (3.3 m) long tusk, which weighed 230 pounds (104 kg) but the average is 2.5 m (83 ft) long and 60 kg (130 pound). In the case of the females, tusks do not weigh more than 18 kg (40 pounds), the average being 7 kg (16 pounds). The tusks of the Asian elephant male are not longer than 2.1 m (7 ft). In extinct mastodons and mammoths, the tusks could be 5 m (17 ft) long!
  53. Because the elephant foot has underside soft cushions, elephants can walk almost noiselessly. A walking elephant has a speed of about 5.5 mi (9 km) per hour and it "runs" with a speed of 25 mi (40 km) per hour, faster than the most rapid human athletes, despite their huge size. Elephants living in the forest are sedentary, but those in dry places migrate, traveling up to 500 km (300 mi).
  54. Besides the trumpeting (expressing anger) and throaty rumbling similar to gargling which we hear, elephants also communicate through infrasound's with a frequency of 14-24 Hz. The advantage of the infrasound's is that they can cross vast distances, without being attenuated by the vegetation. This explains why elephant herds located at great distances one from another move in a coordinated way. The infrasound's are produced by a membrane located in the forehead, where the trunk unites to the skull.
  55. Each elephant has a specific vocal timbre. The calls of the elephants have various meanings, from aggression to alarm call when searching for lost offspring. When spotting a possible danger, elephants stop rumbling.
  56. They express aggression by threatening with twirled trunk and by throwing dust in the air. The African elephant also flutters its enormous ears.
  57. Like children, elephants must be disciplined by the members of their collectively to turn into responsible members of the elephant society. But male elephants that were orphans turned into adult delinquents in a reserve in South Africa, as they had never been kept under control by mature elephants.
  58. The balky elephants attacked people (killing two, including a professional hunter), killed 19 white rhinos in three years and even attempted mating with rhinoceroses. When adult bulls from a group were moved amongst delinquents, they restored order and a more proper behaviour in young bulls.
  59. Elephants of Digboi (northeastern India) are fascinated by oil. They roam through the oil fields when important valves from the pipes connecting the wells to the refinery are open. They seem to enjoy the sound made by valves when opening, especially those controlling the vapours which impede the oil turning into paraffin. But it's not all about the gushing oil, but also the mud and the water getting out with the oil. The water is salty and this is what elephants want.
  60. In fact, an elephant led to the discovery of this oil field during the British occupation. A British official working at the first railway in the area noticed an oily substance on the limb of an elephant. Following the traces of the elephant, he discovered a bubbling oil pool. That was the first oil field opened in Asia, in 1889.
  61. A trunk can sniff at a long distance from the owner's face, grab things, or march across a pool underwater, using it as a snorkel. Because the trunk does not have bones, it's extremely mobile. In fact, nose bones are greatly reduced and not only in elephants, but also in other mammals that developed rudimentary trunks (like tapirs).
  62. In addition, there is one (in African elephant) or two (in Asian elephant) "fingers" on the tip to grasp small objects. This prehensile "hand" can weigh 400 lb. (160 kg) and measure 7 feet (2,1 m), being able to lift objects of more than 300 lb. (120 kg). A man can be thrown 35 m (116 ft) away with the trunk and 2 tons can be dragged by trunk.
  63. The elephant can collect gallons of water with the trunk and then give itself a quick shower; or reach the highest, freshest leaves off a tree.
  64. It may be used to chase away flies or to hug affectionately another elephant's trunk. Changes in nostril size shift the sound of the elephant calls. Elephants also wade into pools and use the tip of their trunk as a snorkel as it swims to the other side, breathing easily.
  65. Humans can only use a foot long snorkel tubes, because for deeper snorkels the mismatch between air pressure inside lungs and the increasing outside pressure can make blood vessels swell.
  66. But elephant lungs are different: instead of having a pleural space between lungs and the chest case as humans and most mammals do, elephants have dense sheets of fibery tissue, allowing their lungs to withstand pressures that would cause human lungs to collapse. This is a sign that elephant ancestors were aquatic creatures. Indeed, their closet living relatives seem to be the sea cows, like manatees and dugongs.
  67. Have you ever wondered why elephants have a wrinkled skin? The folding of their skin helps them regulate their temperature and keep its humidity. The wrinkled skin retains 5-10 times more water than a smooth skin and the mud stuck on it dries much harder, keeping coolness for longer periods. The wrinkled skin also loses more heat, cooling down the animal.


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