We’ve always wondered why elephants have such big and long trunks.
We all know that elephants use their trunks (taps) for almost everything other than simply breathing, this sedge is also flexible and acts as an arm, device. Reception signals, water pumps, nozzles…
Specifically, elephants use them to get food, water, bath water or as a weapon to defeat their enemies. Or they can be used to show affection, show affection, greet…and it all started with the prehistoric ancestors of elephants.
Why did elephants evolve to have such long trunks?
There are currently only three species of elephants in the world: the Asian elephant, the African savannah elephant and the African forest elephant. Additionally, the other elephant species mentioned in this article are all extinct.
When it comes to elephant ancestors, many people probably think of their ancestral species that appeared 47 million years ago. From the outside, it looks like a cross between a tapir and a hippopotamus, but only the size of a pig.
It doesn’t have a long nose like modern elephants, but the nose and lips are connected together, and the nose is very flexible. Additionally, their teeth were almost similar to the tusks of modern elephants.
Therefore, it was initially considered to be the most primitive ancestor of modern elephants. In fact, after much research, scientists have determined that it is just a branch of the extinct ancient elephant.
Why did elephants evolve to have such long trunks? – Photo 2.
Moertherium, meaning beast from Lake Morris.
Twelve million years later, another class of mammals began to appear, with protruding ivory-like teeth called paleomastodons. Scientists now believe that this species was indeed the ancestor of modern elephants.
They lived about 36-35 million years ago, Palaeomastodon lived near what is today the Sahara Desert in North Africa. However, at that time, this desert area was completely tropical swamp.
This means that the early ancestors of most elephants lived in areas with abundant water resources. Based on this, it has been speculated that their noses evolved to aid in breathing, diving and swamping.
However, with climate change such as forest disappearance, ocean and river drying up, and other geographical factors, these ancient elephants were forced to migrate to land and struggled to survive.
Why did elephants evolve to have such long trunks? – Photo 3.
The above hypothesis is currently considered the most reasonable explanation, but it still does not solve the problem. Is this why elephants have long trunks?
Judging from the fossil record of elephant ancestors, ancient mastodons had relatively short trunks. Instead, their teeth are flat-bottomed and look like a giant shovel. Scientists speculate that their lower tooth structure facilitates picking up plants in the water while foraging in swamps.
In fact, everything changed when ancient elephants moved to live on dry land. In general, terrestrial herbivores need to be much taller than carnivores. Because a good height will help them not have to compete with terrestrial herbivores for food, plus, a higher height will have a greater field of view to avoid predators. In order to survive, ancient elephants also needed to evolve, changing their size to adapt to new habitats.
As a result, elephants’ bodies have grown larger, longer, and taller, and their heads have grown farther and farther from the ground.
Why did elephants evolve to have such long trunks? – Photo 4.
But this means that it is more difficult to eat tender grass on the ground. Many other animals such as cows, horses, and camels have chosen to evolve to extend their necks to be able to eat. Bending down to eat the grass on the ground, and can also get up to admire the plants above.
Elephants have relatively heavy heads compared to other animals. If their necks are longer, they need strong neck muscles to support their heads. But with the addition of super large ivory, the elephant’s head weighs hundreds of kilograms.
If it is shaped like this, it will need a huge long neck and a larger body, which seems to be a daunting task. challenges, so elephants have chosen different evolutionary paths.
Why did elephants evolve to have such long trunks? – Photo 5.
Abdominalis lived in the Miocene, about 150,000 to 4,000,000 years ago, distributed in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Although it flourished, it did not last until the Miocene.
In some ancient elephants, when they couldn’t evolve to elongate their necks, they evolved to gradually elongate their jaws to get food on the ground, such as the platypus, which is a very strange elephant that appeared in the Miocene period . Their jaws are extremely long, with a pair of flattened incisors on the lower jaw of the front face.
Why did elephants evolve to have such long trunks? – Photo 6.
Such a strange appearance, this species is also known as the shovel tooth, their strange mouth is like a combination of a duck and a wild boar nose. Initially, the species was thought to feed on mud and swamps. However, the study found that the shovellodon behaved similarly to modern elephants, often foraging from trees.
Through a microscope, scientists found that their teeth had many traces of friction with tree branches. Although it flourished, it did not last until the Miocene.
The second is the species of Dinosaurs that lived in Eurasia-Africa from the Miocene to the Pleistocene. The largest individual can reach 12 tons and the body length is nearly 8 meters.
Why did elephants evolve to have such long trunks? – Photo 7.
Dinosaurs are prehistoric relatives of modern elephants, unlike modern elephants, which arose in the Miocene and survived into the Pleistocene. Judging from the fossils found, paleontologists believe they behaved almost like modern elephants, with downward-curving canines attached to their lower jaws.
Scientists speculate that this strange set of tusks was used to dig up tree bark. This also made the ancestors of elephants with thicker skulls heavier and stronger, and “clumsy” necks full of strong muscles.
Because they have a thick, heavy skull with a pair of large, long tusks that make it difficult for them to eat grass on the ground, they gradually evolved to change the weight and center of gravity of the head. Move back gradually. Over many generations of evolution, the elephant’s head and jaw have shortened, while its trunk has continued to grow longer and become more flexible.
Elephants that have not continued to evolve to have long trunks will gradually lose their competitive advantage, and climate change will make their habitats worse and worse, which will make species that have not evolved gradually extinct.
In fact, an elephant’s trunk is so soft and flexible that it contains 40,000 muscles. They have become the most important organs of elephants. With the right muscle contractions, an elephant trunk can do a lot. It can lift hundreds of kilograms and wipe eyes very gently.