Here are the basic anatomical features of an elephant. 

Updated: The anatomy of elephants

If you are asked to describe an elephant, what features would you name? Their long trunk, enormous ears or maybe wrinkly skin? Whichever feature of an elephant you describe, people are more than likely to picture it.

These animals have some of the most unique features in the animal kingdom. What makes elephant anatomy so unique? Our team wants to share some of the basic anatomical features of an elephant and how to donate to save elephants

The basics of elephant anatomy


A very distinguishing feature of an elephant is its trunk. Contrary to belief, elephants do not use their trunks for drinking water. An elephant’s trunk is its nose and upper lip. Elephants use their trunks to smell, pick up things, move things, snorkel, show affection, and feel their way around. All these uses are possible because an elephant’s trunk has over 40,000 muscles


You would think that with an elephant being so large, it would have eyes to match. However, elephants have relatively small eyes. An elephant’s eye is only 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches) in diameter. Their eyes are located on the side of their head, and they have poor vision. 


If you have ever seen a picture of an elephant, you would have noticed their large ears. The ears of an African elephant are larger than those of an Asian elephant. Their ears, on average, can grow to be six feet long and four feet wide. Thanks to an elephant’s large ears, they are able to regulate their body temperature and hear long distances. 


Elephants are known for their wrinkly skin. Although their skin might look coarse and thick, the skin of elephants varies in thickness. In certain parts of their body, their skin is really thick or thin. The wrinkles and cracks of an elephant’s skin help them stay cool. Their skin helps regulate their body temperature through an evaporative cooling process


Swinging from left and right is the elephant’s tail. These animals have a small tail with some hairs at the end. Elephants use their tail as a fly swatter to keep the pests away. Also, some people consider the hairs on an elephant to be lucky. However, it is illegal to remove an elephant’s tail hair from a living or poached elephant. 


Something unique about elephants is that they are digitigrade animals - what this means is the animal walks and stands on its toes. An elephant’s foot can get as big as 15 to 19 inches in length, and the circumference is more than four feet. 


The tusks of an elephant are their incisors. One-third of their tusks are actually embedded in the head, and the ivory part is what protrudes. Elephants use their tusks for many tasks like protection, digging, moving and foraging. Researchers have found that the size of an elephant’s tusks has been decreasing over the years due to poaching

How to donate to save elephants

As beautiful and unique as elephants are, they are also losing their lives due to poaching. You can help save these magnificent animals by supporting nonprofits. These organizations are helping to improve the conservation strategies for elephants. You can support our research by joining our “Herd of Heroes” program. Register down below! 


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