There’s so much more to Elephants facts than just “the largest land mammal”; 7 facts right here, we are pretty sure you didn’t know of!
Yes, we know them as the largest land animals on Earth, but Elephants can fascinate you further. These mammals of the family Elephantidae play a gigantic (well, literally) role in maintaining the balance of fragile ecosystems. However, in today’s time and scenario, they are also one of the most concerning subjects of man-animal coexistence stemming from decades of negative interaction. For reasons including a floundered coexistence and loss of habitat, the population of these gentle giants is nearing a critical point. Before they go out of sight and out of mind, it's only fair that we know them a little better. And so, here are 7 elephants facts, you probably never heard of!
1) What's In A Name?
First things first - what does “Elephant” mean? The word elephant is derived from the Greek word “elephas”, meaning ivory. Now, it all comes together — tusks, ivory, elephas, elephant!
22 months. You read that right! While the length of this period is shocking, the reason behind it is quite a wonderful one as well. Turns out, the long gestation period results from their high intelligence. Highly intelligent animals have to undergo a long developmental period. The second reason is their size, of course. Since they also happen to be the biggest-brained land animal in the world, there’s a lot of development that takes place in the mother’s womb!
3) Ears or Fans?
Both! Ever wondered why the ears of an elephant are as they are? They are essential in regulating their body temperatures. The shape allows the radiation of excess heat away from the body - just like a fan. And this also makes the ears the coolest parts of their bodies!
4) One-of-Its-Kind Animal Intelligence
You may have heard of how Elephants are one of the most social in the animal kingdom. But did you know why? Their unique intelligence allows them to express emotions like altruism, grief, compassion and self-awareness (they can recognise themselves in the mirror!). This is best justified by the very strong bonds they have within their family groups. Intense greetings while reuniting after a period of separation is demonstrated in the form of heightened trunk interactions, vocalisations, and even urination/defecation!
5) Sand as Sunscreen
We know of sand’s calming and soothing properties, but the gentle giants have gone further and made do with it even as sunscreen! It’s a common sight to watch elephants flinging sand over their head and back in hot spaces. They do it to both keep sunburns at bay and bugs off!
6) Giant Appetites!
An average adult elephant spends as many as 16 hours of the day eating. That is a lot of food, you may think? You’re right — almost 300 kgs of food and 160 litres of water each day — is the capacity of an adult elephant!
7) Special Communication
Scent, touch and sound form a large part of the elephants’ communication. Sound, especially, needs a special mention here given their unmatchable hearing ability. Elephants can not only hear a trumpeting call that’s as far as 5 miles, but they also talk to each other in several ways — some inaudible to the human ear!
Wonderful, aren’t they? It’s only a pity that their time with us is shorter than what we may have otherwise liked!