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Do Elephants Have Knees? And Other Stories of Darwinian Origins$
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Charles R., Jr. Ault

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704673

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704673.001.0001

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Nosey Elephants

Nosey Elephants

A Tale of Trunks and Tusks

Chapter:
(p.104) 7 Nosey Elephants
Source:
Do Elephants Have Knees? And Other Stories of Darwinian Origins
Author(s):

Charles R. Ault

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501704673.003.0007

This chapter examines how trunks, and for that matter elephants, came to be by referring to Rudyard Kipling's “The Elephant's Child.” It first looks at fossils unearthed in the Fayum district of Egypt and the discovery of bones from a pig-sized animal called Moeritherium. It then discusses the descent of elephant testes to explain elephant origins as well as the presence of funnel-shaped kidney ducts called nephrostomes in all elephant fetuses. It also considers the elephant's minuscule embryonic trunk as a means for deep snorkeling; the evolution of proboscids and the trunk by natural selection; the flexible hyoid structure as a distinctive feature of elephants; and the role of tusks in sexual selection in elephants.

Keywords:   trunks, elephants, Rudyard Kipling, fossils, Moeritherium, testes, evolution, proboscids, natural selection, sexual selection

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