Anatomy of the elephants

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How is a skeleton built up?

As for all mammals the elephant's skeleton is made up of skull (Click to enlarge a skull), spinal column, extremities, ribs and breastbone. Since the different elephant species have different numbers of thoracic, lumbar, sacral and caudal vertebrae, an elephant's skeleton consists of 326 to 351 bones.

Elefanten Skelett

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How many muscles does an elephant have?

Approximately 394 different skeleton muscles set the elephant's body in motion.
The most remarkable part of the elephant's body is the trunk. The trunk consists of about 40,000 individual muscles. They give it a remarkable flexibility and deftness.

Elefanten Muskulatur

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How big is the heart?

The internal organs of the elephant are proportionately not bigger than with other mammals. The brain weighs about 4.5 to 5.5 kg, the heart - depending on the age - between 12 and 21 kg.
The heart beats approximately 30 times per minute.
The quantity of the blood corresponds to about 10 % of the body weight.
The body temperature of a healthy elephants is about 35.9 degrees.

Elefanten Organe

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Are elephants "thick skinned"?

All the muscles, organs and bones are held together by a strong and "thick" skin. The expression "thick skinned" is still not quite right for elephants, however.

Where are an elephant cow’s teats?

The teats of an elephant cow, unlike those of most other mammals, are situated between her front legs, as is also the case in humans, primates and whales.
To enable the calf to have a soft landing as it enters the world, the mother’s vaginal opening isn’t below the base of her tail but between her hind legs. This reduces the drop for the newborn elephant from around 170 cm to only 70 cm.
As a result, there is no more space for the mammaries between the hind legs, which is why, in the course of evolution, the lacteal glands and teats of female elephants have shifted forward to their current position, i.e. between the elephant cow’s front legs.

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