Why Do Elephants Have Big Ears ?
The elephant is the biggest animal in the world. It is a mammal and the most distinguishing features are its trunk, big ears and tusks. The elephant has been hunted for centuries for its tusk, which is sold as ivory. The animal was used in battlefields and also for labor. However, looking that this huge animal, one often wonders why do elephants have big ears.
The African elephants have bigger ears compared to the Asian elephants. But in both species these big ears are there for a reason. Perhaps it is an evolutionary thing that these animals have. On an average, the size of an elephant's ear is 22 feet. The ears are not meant to help enhance the hearing of the animal. Rather, they are so big to help these huge mammals cool themselves off.
Elephants inhabit hot areas in Asia and Africa. So, they need some type of adaptation to help cool themselves off considering that the places they live in do not have too much water available. When we want to cool ourselves, we can take a dip in a pool or have a shower. This luxury is not always available to elephants, especially during the hot season, just before the monsoon.
The elephant uses its big ears to fan itself and this helps to cool down the body. In addition, the ears of an elephant are full of blood vessels. The blood flow to the ears increases when the elephant fans its ears and by doing this, the heat can dissipate from the body via the ears. As a result, the body temperature of the elephant reduces and it is better able to cope with the surrounding heat.
Researchers believe that this is the main reason that elephants have big ears. The large-sized ears help the elephant to cool its body and regulate its body temperature. The hotter it is, the faster the elephant will flap its ears. That is why when you see an elephant flapping its ears, you know that it is feeling hot and trying to cool itself down.
So, the next time someone asks you why elephants have big ears, you will know the answer and be able to explain to the person the reason behind this evolutionary adaptation. However, it is important to note that elephants do make use of other ways of cooling down their bodies. They spray themselves with mud, which enters into the crevices of their wrinkled skin and helps to reduce evaporation. Elephants also spray themselves with water, if there is any available.
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