Elephant trunks suck up water at speeds of 540 kilometres per hour

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An elephant’s trunk has astonishing sucking power

Martin Harvey/Alamy

Extreme suction helps elephants hold water and food in their trunks, allowing them to inhale at speeds nearly 30 times the rate at which we exhale air when we sneeze.

Elephants use their trunks, which weigh more than 100 kilograms, in a variety of ways: to forage through vegetation for food, to drink and even as a snorkel when wading through deep water.

To better understand the trunk in action, Andrew Schulz at the Georgia Institute of Technology and his colleagues filmed a 34-year-old female African savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana) completing a series of tests at a zoo in Atlanta.

They filled an aquarium with a certain volume of water and measured how long the elephant spent inhaling water from the tank via its…

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