Ask Mike asked in Science & MathematicsZoology · 1 decade ago

Why do elephants have such big ears?

Do they serve a purpose? Please include links. Thanks!

29 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
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    The big ears are to help the elephants stay cool. Elephants don't sweat, so they have a hard time dissipating excess heat (keeping cool). Their large ears contain many blood vessels that allow heat to escape into the air. When you see elephants they are usually moving their ears back and forth. This fanning helps to dissipate more heat than if their ears remained still.

    The enormous ears of elephants act as cooling devices. The gigantic earflaps (which can measure up to 2 square metres (21.5 square feet) are equipped with an intricate web of blood vessels. When the animal flaps its ears, the blood temperature lowers by as much as 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit).

    http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/sgs/afesg/faq/elefa...

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  • 1 decade ago

    This I must admit is not a subject I am familiar with, but it seemed like it might be cool to know. So I typed elephants into the search engine and a quick look at their anatimy revealed some really interesting facts.

    The first thing I discovered was Asian elephants have big ears about 60cm x 30cm and African elephants have really big ears measuring 183cm x 114cm about 3 times the size of their asian cousins.

    An elephants ear is such an important part of the animal and plays several major roles ensuring their wellbeing and survival.

    The elephants ear has a major function keeping an elephant comfortable by regulating its body temprature, quite essential in a hot climate, especially when you weigh as much as one of these babies. Because of an elephants large mass, and

    low surface area in comparison, heat loss through radiation is really quite inefficient.

    The large surface area of an elephants ear with it's large network of veins and arteries allows the hotter blood from its internal functions to be cooled as it passes through this network to be used again.

    On a hot day in Africa, elephants may be seen standing down wind with there ears open, allowing the cool breeze blow across their hot arteries.

    African elephants also use them to ward off potential preditors, as well as a signaling device.

    An elephant can on an average day haer another 4 km's away and when its quiet over 9 km's spanning a 100km radius.

    And just like human fingerprints no elephant has ears the same as another.

    Scientists also now believe that they allow the species an infrasound capibility, basically allowing them a secret language because unly elephants can hear the frequency.

    Source(s): Further info can be found at- elephant.elehost.com and follow the links. There I am sure are plenty more sites but this is the one I used and found it quite informative.
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  • Laurie
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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    The big ears are to help the elephants stay cool. Elephants don't sweat, so they have a hard time dissipating excess heat (keeping cool). Their large ears contain many blood vessels that allow heat to escape into the air. When you see elephants they are usually moving their ears back and forth. This fanning helps to dissipate more heat than if their ears remained still. The enormous ears of elephants act as cooling devices. The gigantic earflaps (which can measure up to 2 square metres (21.5 square feet) are equipped with an intricate web of blood vessels. When the animal flaps its ears, the blood temperature lowers by as much as 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit).

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  • 1 decade ago

    Everything on the elephant is large. It would look silly with ears the size of ours.

    Actually, different types of elephants have differently sized ears. African elephants have very large ears. Asian elephants have smaller ears. You could probably look it up in Wikipedia or someplace else fairly easy to use, so I won't bother giving you the links.

    Here's an interesting and true story though. There are certain old Tarzan movies where they only had Asian elephants to use in the jungle scenes. The scenes are supposed to take place in Africa though, so they put large, prosthetic ears on the elephants to make them look African. Strange but true.

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  • 1 decade ago

    First off, African elephants have large ears. Asian elephants have big ears but nothing like the African species. The African elephant's ear's are filled with blood vessels. The ears are then used to cool the elephant's body by circulation blood through these vessels to get them further from the heat source of the body therefore cooling the elephant.

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  • 1 decade ago

    They do have a purpose. Elephant ears have a lot of blood vessels in them and they use the ears to cool. So when an elephant is hot, it pumps a lot of blood through the ears and then fans the ears to cool off the blood. Cooling off the blood in turn cools off the animal.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Hello mike...i hope you are ok once again...Elephants have so big ears because they are to help them to cool them.Lots of blood vessels going through there and flapping them releses head....i hope my answer is enough for answer...c u....bb

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  • 1 decade ago

    Mike. Its a proportional thing. Think about it for a moment. How good would little tiny ears look on an elephant anyway?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    they have big ears to fan them self with, honestly that's why in nature programs the elephants are always flapping their ears.

    here's a link to prove i'm not lying

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant#Ears

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  • 1 decade ago

    Elephants have big ears because like us I assume they need them big for balance due to their tremendous size.

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