One of the most recognizable features of an elephant is its trunk – the long appendage that extends out from the animal’s face. Elephants use it for a variety of activities, including drinking, eating, and sniffing, but a lot is going on inside of that elephant trunk that you might not have been aware of.
The primary feature of an elephant’s trunk is the nose located at its tip. As you might come to expect, those massive nostrils pair with some seriously impressive sniffing power. Elephants have more olfactory receptor genes than any other living animal we know of, making them even better at discerning scents than dogs.
In addition to a nose, the trunk operates much like an arm, allowing an elephant to reach into trees to grab food or apply force on an object to crush it. The trunk contains more than 40,000 individual muscles, and without any bones or joints, it can move freely in any direction. The trunk is sturdy enough to crush things but also gentle enough to lift a tortilla chip without breaking it.
Another fun fact: if you place an elephant in front of a mirror, they often open their mouths and gawk at their trunks. As it would seem, they are easily mesmerized by their own trunk, and understandably so.