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OF UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE FOR THE PEOPLE,
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
FROM THE LIBRARY OF
JUNE 28, 1938
Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1862, by
J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.,
ELEPHANT (Gr. Elephas), a genus of quadru- , which would be too violent a motion for its com pads, of the order Pachydermata (q. v.), and of the formation and huge body, but a sort of shuffle, the section Proboscidea. Elephants are the largest speed of which is increased or diminished without 'xisting land animals. The ordinary height at the other alteration. The E. is incapable of springing shoulder is about eight feet, but sometimes exceeds like the deer, horse, and other animals which have ten feet. The weight of a large E. is about five the bones of their shoulders and hocks set at an tons, the body being very bulky in proportion to angle. its height. To sustain this weight, it is furnished The head in elephants is large; the neck is shorts with limbs of colossal thickness and strength, which and thick, the long flexible proboscis compensating are also remarkably straight, each bone resting both for the shortness of the neck, and for the inflexivertically on that beneath it. From the appear-bility caused by the largely developed processes: ance of inflexibility presented by the limbs, arose of its vertebræ, and enabling the animal readily the notion prevalent among the ancients, and to reach objects on the ground, or to a height of throughout the middle ages, that the limbs are several feet above its head, or on either side. A destitute of joints, and that consequently an E. great extent of bony surface in the head affords cannot lie down to rest like another quadruped, attachment for muscles destined to move and give and if it were to lie down, could not rise again, power to the proboscis or trunk. This extent of but always sleeps standing, or leaning against a bony surface is provided in a remarkable manner, tree. It is indeed true that the E. often sleeps which at the same time makes the head, heavy standing, and when fatigued, falls asleep leaning as it is, lighter in proportion to its bulk than is against a rock or tree, against which it may have usual in quadrupeds ; a great space separating the been rubbing itself. The flexibility of the limbs is, internal and external tables of all the bones of the however, sufficient to permit elephants to run with skull, except the occipital bones, so that the spacespeed nearly equal to that of a horse, to indulge in occupied by the brain is but a small part of the playful gambols, and to ascend and descend steep whole head. The space between the tables of the mountains. Elephants are more sure-footed and bones is occupied by cells, some of which are four or Berviceable than either horses or mules, in difficult | five inches in length; others are small, irregular, mountain roads. On the very steepest declivities, an and honeycomb-like; "these all communicate with E. works his way down pretty rapidly, even with a each other, and through the frontal sinuses with the howdah and its occupants upon his back, his chest cavity of the nose, and also with the tympanum or and belly on the ground, and each fore-foot employed drum of each ear; consequently, as in some birds, in making a hole for itself, into which the hind foot these cells are filled with air. The huge and afterwards follows it, and to which the weight may extraordinary bones of the skull, besides affording: be trusted, that another step may be ventured with attachment for muscles, afford mechanical supporte safety. In lying down, the E. does not bring his to the tisks. hind-legs under him, like the horse and other quad. The nasal bones of the E. are scarcely more than rupeds, but extends them backwards (as man does rudimentary ; but the tapering proboscis, to the when he assumes the kneeling position), an arrange- very extremity of which the nostrils are prolonged; ment which, .by enabling him to draw the hind-feet is nearly eight feet in length. Besides the great gradually under him, assists him to rise almost muscles connected with it at its base, it is composed without a perceptible effort. The E.'s pace, when of a vast multitude of small muscles variously interexceeding a walk, is neither a trot nor a gallop, laced, but chiefly either longitudinal, and divided
into successive arcs, of which the convexity is out- many ways for their comfort or enjoyment, as in wards, or transverse, and radiating from the internal throwing dust over their backs, or in fanning themto the external membrane. Cuvier states the selves and switching away flies with a leafy branch, number of muscles having the power of distinct two practices to which they are greatly addicted. action as not far short of 40,000. The trunk can be Their mutual caresses are also managed by means coiled around a tree, and employed to tear it from of the trunk, and through it they make a loud its roots; it is a formidable weapon of offence or shrill sound, indicative of rage, which is described
by Aristotle as resembling the hoarse sound of a trumpet, and from which this organ received its French name trompe, corrupted in English into trunk. With the trunk also, they sometimes, when angry, beat violently on the ground.
The sense of smell is very acute in the E., as is also that of hearing. The ears are large and pendulous, the eyes are small..
Elephants have no canine teeth, nor have they any incisors in the lower jaw. The upper jaw is furnished with two incisors, which assume the peculiar character of tusks, and attain an enormous size, a single tusk sometimes weighing 150 or even 300 lbs. The tusks are, however, often imperfectly developed, ten or twelve inches in length, and one or two in diameter. These stunted tusks are often used for such purposes as snapping off small branches and tearing climbing plants from trees. Those elephants which possess great tusks employ them also for such other uses as loosening the
roots of trees which they cannot otherwise tear Various positions of the Elephant's Trunk :
from the ground; or in a state of domestication, 1, female elephant suckling her young one; 2, the young one; 3, elephant reposing; 4, elephant swimming; 5, young
for such labours as moving great stones, and piling elephant browsing.
or carrying timber. A powerful E. will raise and
carry on his tusks a log of half a ton weight or defence, and is far more employed in this way than more. The tusks of the E. surpass in size all other the tusks, even by those elephants which have tusks teeth of existing animals, and are the largest of all of great size ; its extremity can be wound around a teeth in proportion to the size of the body. They small handful of grass or a slender branch; it is consist chiefly of that variety of dentine called even capable of plucking the smallest leaf, or of Ivory (q. v.), and continue to grow—like the lifting a pin from the ground. To fit it for such incisors of the rodents, to which they are in some actions as those last mentioned, and for many such respects analogous-even when the animal has as might be performed by a hand, it is furnished at the extremity with what may be likened to a finger and thumb; on the upper side, an elongated process-strong, soft, and flexible, like the rest of the trunk, and endowed with the most delicate sense of touch-on the under side, a kind of tubercle against which this process may be pressed. All the food of the E. is gathered and conveyed to the mouth by the trunk : by means of the trunk, also, it drinks,