Friday, May 21, 2004

water cooler talk

water cooler talk earlier today revolved around whether the trunk of an elephant was an extended nose or an extended upper lip. a fiercely contested debate! i myself was of the opinion that it was an extended upper lip, but the argument regarding the use of a trunk as a snorkel while swimming long distances made me doubt myself. so as soon as i got back to the office, there was a quick google search and here are the findings:
An elephant's trunk is both an upper lip and a nose.
Not only that, the trunk has more than 40,000 muscles in it. that is more than the number in a human's whole body! also, the trunk is so strong and agile that it can push down trees, or pick up a single piece of straw.
Elephants use their trunks to drink but the water doesn’t go all the way up the trunk like a straw. Instead, the elephant sucks water part way up the trunk, curls it toward its mouth, tilts its head up, and lets the water pour in.
An elephant's trunk is indeed a masterpiece of evolution. Here is a nice article describing the evolution of the elephant as we know it today. Aussie scientists have also put forth evidence that the elephant trunks were once snorkels that have now evolved to their present purpose. National Geographic has its own little contribution to educate kids (and adults ofcourse!) about the elephant. And Wikipedia's elephant feature is located here.

so it turns out that the conversation at the water cooler was almost like John Godfrey Saxe's Six blind men of Indostan :)

who says water cooler talk is useless ? :)

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