A team of researchers from members of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Atlanta Zoo and the Rochester Institute of Technology has discovered how elephants can quickly and easily grab small objects and eat them very quickly. In their publication Journal of the Royal Society Interface the group describes their study and what they have found.
Researchers note that elephants have to eat a lot each day because of their huge size and the type of food they eat. Previous research has shown that adults consume on average 200 kilograms of food per day ̵
The researchers found that the elephant formed a joint with its trunk, which allowed it to stack the bran and then crush it so hard that it mixed into a shape she could pick up and eat. To make the joint, the elephant bent its muzzle at a narrow angle and used part of it as a kind of shield. The other part of the snout pressed the food against the back plate and compressed it into a solid mass. Once formed, the elephant easily picked up the mass and brought it to her mouth. The team found that the elephant, depending on the type of food, formed back plates of different heights. They were also able to measure the force that the stem applied to food – 47 Newton to crush a 50 gram pile of bran.
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Jianing Wuet al. Elephant Trunk forms joints to compress small objects Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2018). DOI: 10.1098 / rseif.2018.0377