If You Could Have Any Animal Feature, What Would It Be?

What have you learnt about elephants and their trunks?

Watch the nine-second video embedded above of Kelly, a 34-year-old feminine African elephant on the Zoo Atlanta, utilizing suction to seize a tortilla chip.

Impressed? Does it make you want you had a trunk?

In “Elephant Trunks: Is There Anything They Can’t Do?” Richard Sima writes a few new research concerning the energy and wonders of an elephant’s most defining appendage:

An elephant’s trunk is a marvel of biology. Devoid of any joints or bone, the trunk is an appendage manufactured from pure muscle that’s able to each uprooting timber and gingerly plucking particular person leaves and likewise boasts a way of scent extra highly effective than a bomb-sniffing canine’s.

Elephants use their trunks in quite a lot of methods. They use it to drink, retailer and spray water, they usually additionally blow air by means of it to speak — their 110-decibel bellows could be heard for miles.

“It’s like a muscular multitool,” mentioned Andrew Schulz, a mechanical engineering doctoral pupil on the Georgia Institute of Technology.

In a research revealed Wednesday in The Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Mr. Schulz and his colleagues reported on how elephants can use their trunks for one more perform: making use of suction to seize meals, a habits beforehand considered unique to fishes.

Despite the ubiquity of elephants in youngsters’s books and nature documentaries, there are quite a few gaps in scientific information concerning the biomechanics of their trunks that the brand new research helps fill. For instance, the newest detailed account of elephant trunk anatomy is a hand-drawn monograph that was revealed in 1908, Mr. Schulz mentioned.

Contrary to common perception, the trunk doesn’t act like a straw.

“What they do is actually drink water into their trunk and they store it,” Mr. Schulz mentioned. “So the elephant trunk is actually like a trunk.”

Students, learn the complete article, then inform us:

If you could possibly have any function of any animal — no less than for a day — what wouldn’t it be and why? Eight arms like an octopus? Gills to will let you breathe underwater? Bat ears for echolocation at midnight? The capacity to alter coloration and camouflage like chameleons?

What’s your response to the article and the movies featured in it? Do you agree with Mr. Sima that “an elephant’s trunk is a marvel of biology”? What side of the animal’s versatile and superstrong trunk most fascinates you?

The writer says that a lot about elephants and their trunks remains to be unknown. What animal function would you want scientists to analysis additional and why?

What animal are you most like? Do you suppose that you just resemble any explicit animal, both in character, habits, traits and even appears to be like? What qualities do you possess that you just suppose animals may wish to commerce with you?

Learn extra about Student Opinion right here and discover all of our questions on this column. Teachers, see how one can incorporate this function into your classroom routine right here.

Students 13 and older within the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to remark. All feedback are moderated by the Learning Network workers, however please understand that as soon as your remark is accepted, will probably be made public.