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See How Cracked Skin Helps Elephants Stay Cool | Decoder


Whether it’s swimming, splashing, or
rolling around in the mud, there’s nothing an elephant loves more than bath time. This elephant water park isn’t just for fun, though. Temperatures in the hot African savanna average around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. But staying cool is no problem for elephants, thanks to millions of microscopic cracks
in their skin. How do elephants get their cracks? And why does it help them beat the heat? The African elephant is the largest living
land animal in the world. It can grow up to 13 feet high and weigh up to 7 tons. Its outer skin layer is about 50 times
as thick as a human’s. But, unlike many mammals, elephants don’t sweat. They control much of their body temperature through evaporative cooling— which requires the wetting of the skin through regular bathing and spraying. Elephants can store up to two and a half gallons
of water in their trunk at a time. They use their amazing sense of smell to find water from miles away— even when it’s inside a tree or below ground. Unlike humans, elephants don’t shed their dead skin. When baby elephants are born, their skin is covered in tiny protrusions called papillae. These are similar to the small kinds of bumps
that are found on the human tongue. As they get older, their skin cells build up thicker and thicker over the dermis. Eventually, these accumulated layers start to bend under
pressure, causing deep cracks to form in between the papillae. Water then flows
through the crevices using capillary action, which is the same force that allows
plant roots to soak up water from the soil. This process transforms the skin surface
into an intricate network of channels. As a result, elephant skin can hold up to ten times
more water than a smooth surface. Their fractured skin also helps to keep mud and dust from sliding off. Like an all-natural sunblock, helping to protect elephants from sunburn and parasites. There is still more to learn about the unique ways that elephants have adapted to beat the heat. And scientists hope that understanding elephant skin could even help to improve treatments for human skin conditions. Who knew elephant skin could be so cool?

100 thoughts on “See How Cracked Skin Helps Elephants Stay Cool | Decoder

  1. I thought it was just skin features. Who knew these cracks play a major role. Perhaps the same goes for rhinos and hippos too? Thanks NG

  2. Since elephants are undisputedly one of the smartest animals out there, I often wonder if elephants would have become intelligent up to human level, What kind of world they would have made with their different biological structure.

  3. This proves why I'm glad I'm "suffering" from excess sweating, plus even more sweating due med side effects. Usually a big problem, but during this historically superhot Swedish summer of 2018 I was fine even without AC. As long as I drank gallons of water, ate salt and had sufficient airflow I was fine while others had heatstrokes.

  4. Adorei esta informação sobre uma espécie admirável!!! É incrível as conexões da membrana que cobre exteriormente o corpo nos elefantes proboscideos….face à espessura?? O derme sem o Epi?! E tudo em grande!!

  5. Good job, thank you!
    Aside from the frustrated comics
    Leaving comments of the 4th grade level , how can people who view educational videos demonstrare such illiterate behavior?

  6. How do elephants get their crack? Of course it comes from Colombia and then passes through honduras and then gets smuggled through the borders of mexico and finally in the us.

  7. Elephant mom to calf: "Heavens to Kandula, missie. Just smell you. Now I don't want to hear another word — it's almost bedtime and you're going to march down to the watering hole and take a bath. A good bath, mind you — behind the ears and between your toes and everywhere else. I expect you to come out with at least another inch of mud packed on. Last time you missed a spot and I smelled skin — not this time. No, no, no; no more arguing, missie. Now get."

  8. Amazing.Just keep investigating,you are incredible National Geograpic,I watch all your documentaries wich are to much interesting.Wish that you can share more fishes documentaries.

  9. Only people watching are triggered Europeans lol easy go to google type 85 degrees F to Celsius done 30 degrees Celsius took 5 seconds quit cryin

  10. Elephants don't sweat, so they control much of their body temperature through evaporative cooling. What are your thoughts on this method of beating the heat?

  11. Aaaannnnddd I see your using IMPERIAL MEASUREMENTS again… I know I ken find a calculator for that, but because its irritating you guys keep using imperial, what's the temperature in units of measurement THE REST OF THE WORLD USES?

    There ARE countries other than the United states, ya know!

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