Copyright © 2009 Marissa Klymkiw


The Elephant's Perspective


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Hearing   |   Sight   |   Smell   |   Taste   |   Touch


Elephant’s have a rather sharp sense of hearing, especially when it comes to infrasound hearing. An elephant’s range of hearing spans from 18 hertz to 16,000 hertz. Anything below the range of 20 hertz is known to be in the infrasound range, which is below the range of human hearing. The large size of the elephant’s ears also amplifies sound, aiding significantly to this sense. Furthermore, elephants utilize infrasound by communicating to one another using this very low sound range.

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Many of the elephant’s massive physical characteristics, and even their environment play a role against their sense of sight, which is not very strong. The large head and short neck of the mammal does not allow for easy visibility. Elephants also have 5-inch eyelashes that screen their small eyes from the constant bright light of their open environment. Due to this weakened sense, elephant’s are dependent upon their senses of smell and hearing.

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Elephants have an excellent sense of smell, which is aided by the highly muscled trunk. An elephant can raise or lower its trunk in order to use its nostrils to “sniff out” food or water sources. Sometimes these water sources can be up to 12 miles away! The resources could be miles away or underground; this does not deter the elephant’s excellent sense of smell. About 60% of the elephant’s brain is devoted to smell. Additionally, there are 20 million scent receptors in the elephant’s nasal lining, compared to a human’s measly 5 million.

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Elephant’s have an average sense of taste. Their sense of taste allows them to determine favorable over unfavorable food.

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The elephant’s trunk is one of the most sensitive appendages on their body. The trunk is used to feel and explore their environment. The trunk can also pick up loads weighing up to 550 pounds, easily assisting them when digging up trees to reach for food sources.

Elephants also have pacinian corpuscles on their trunks. These corpuscles are extensive sensory motor cells. These pacinian corpuscles allow them to have an extremely sensitive sense of touch. The pacinian corpuscles are found on the elephant's large, flat feet. In addition to the elephant's unique hearing capabilities, which allow them to hear well into the infrasound range, the pacinian corpuscles can help them detect seismic vibrations.

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