National Geographic : 1951 Mar
With Its Useful Trunk the Pachyderm Feeds, Feels, Drinks, Works, Scents Danger, and Fights Old and young alike grub for salt planted to bait wild animals. The sensitive snouts probably found the "lick" be fore the eyes saw it. An ele phant depends on smell more than on any other sense. Pos sibly the best smelling appa ratus in the world, the trunk is absolutely flexible at every point. It contains no bone, but its tough muscle and sinew challenge the sharpest knife. It can lift and easily toss a ton of timber-or deftly pull a blade of grass. Gestation period of elephants varies from 18 to 22 months. At birth a baby has a woolly coat of downy hair over gray ish-pink skin; erect, black bristles cover the head. Wean ing occurs at about two years. Calf at right is only a few months old. As pets of the herd, infants receive much attention from both cows and bulls. Amusing and mischievous, the very young try to frighten ever-in dulgent mothers. They hide, then squeal as if in distress. When a mother goes to the rescue, her calf rushes out and butts her hard. No one seems to have fixed conclusively the life span of an elephant. Some authorities now believe the animal dies at about 50 or 60.