An elephant stands out in the animal kingdom due to it’s enormous size, tusks, trunk and pretty big ears. Have you ever wondered why elephants have big ears?
At Lanarkshire Hearing Centre we love sharing fun facts about animals and their hearing.
Today is World Elephant Day and we want to share fun facts about why elephants have big ears.
The size of the ears of an elephant differs depending on the kind of elephant. An African elephant has ears that can get as big as six feet long and four feet wide and resemble the shape of Africa’s continent. On the other hand, Asian elephants’ ears are smaller and more round-shaped.
Why elephants have different sized and shaped ears has to do with their habitats. African elephants live in extreme temperature environments and need a lot of protection from the sun. On the other hand, Asian elephants live in shady forests where they do not see a lot of sunlight.
As humans, we have air conditioning, swimming pools and other methods to cool ourselves off. When humans are hot, our bodies sweat to help keep us cool. However, elephants are not able to sweat. The average African elephant weighs between 2.5 to 7 tons and produces a lot of body heat in hot climates.
An elephant’s ears are made up of thousands of blood vessels that are thin and close to the skin. This allows the excess body heat to escape the elephant’s body to regulate their body temperature. Plus, another reason why elephants have big ears is to use their ears as fans to cool off their bodies.
Can you hear us now? The African elephant might be able to! African elephant’s large ears are due to the exact purposes we would think – to hear. This elephant’s ears allow them to hear up to six miles away from their current location.
They can also hear another elephant’s call up to two and a half miles away. Can you imagine if humans could hear two and a half to six miles away at a time? That would be overwhelming in the city.
Aside from hearing and cooling off, elephants also use their ears to communicate. Researchers have discovered that elephants also use body language. When they are trying to intimidate someone or animals, they spread their ears wide open. By doing this, they are trying to show dominance and intimidate.