The Super Powers Of Elephant Trunks

By Anthony K

Image courtesy of IFLScience

New research shows that elephant trunks can achieve incredible suction feats. A study published in the Journal of the Royal Society interfaces established that the muscular, 200-pound nasal appendages can suck up to 0.8 gallons or three-liter of water per second. This flow rate is mind-blowing and is comparable to approximately 24 showerheads. This requires the elephants to inhale air at a spectacular 330 miles per hour to achieve such great suction. This is about 30 times quicker than a human sneeze and even faster than most speed trains.

An elephant trunk is beneficial in almost any situation. The jointless noodle made of muscles can rip trees from the ground. In deep waters, it can be used as a snorkel. It is also capable of pulling a potato chip from a table without breaking it.

Image courtesy of Waldemar Brandt/Unsplash

A 34-year-old African savannah elephant named Kelly helped the researchers arrive at the stunning facts. The researchers took a high-speed video of the elephant and assessed its nose suctions capacity.

They then did further investigations, where they used an ultrasound to view what activities take place inside the creature’s trunk while sucking water. From this, they established that the nostrils inside the elephant’s trunk dilated by up to 64% of its total volume as it took water.

The research aimed to understand the physics of how elephants utilize their trunks to manipulate and move water, air, food, and other objects. This stunning discovery and quantifying the elephants’ trunks will play a huge role in inspiring research, including robotics.