Lions may be considered the “king of beasts,” but they pale in comparison to the size of elephants. The elephant is the largest land animal on Earth today. With somewhat amusing features (like a long “nose” and big ears), the awesome Imperial African elephant can reach weights of up to 11 tons (22,000 pounds!) and measure 13 feet high.

Whereas giraffes are well-known for being long all over, elephants are best known for being big all over. They have big bellies that can hold massive amounts of vegetation. They have sizeable skulls and big brains weighing about 11 pounds. They have a heavy heart that can weigh as much as an average seven-year-old human child (50 pounds!). They have large legs that, in addition to carrying around several tons of bodyweight, can move at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. They have rear teeth (called molars) that can grow to be one foot long and weigh 10 pounds. Their tusks, which are actually long teeth, can grow to be 10 feet long and weigh 200 pounds. Even their skin is “big.” It can grow to be up to one-inch thick in certain places. (Can you imagine having skin that thick?) Elephants even have big babies, which can weigh as much as 250 pounds at birth. The fact is, the African elephant is several times larger than the average dinosaur, which was about the size of a large cow.

The elephant is perhaps most well-known for the six-foot-long, 300-pound trunk hanging from its face. Scientists believe that the elephant’s trunk is “the most versatile organ in the animal kingdom.” It is made up of 100,000 muscle units. Some muscles run longways up and down the trunk. Other muscles radiate around each nostril, similar to the spokes on a bicycle.

The elephant can use his trunk to lift things three times the trunk’s weight. An elephant with a 300-pound trunk could lift a 900-pound cow….

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