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flip86's avatar

Interesting science question about elephants. Question too long. Details inside. Care to speculate?

Asked by flip86 (6009 points ) January 25th, 2014

Lets say humans had never seen a living elephant. One day, a group of scientists finds an elephant skull. They examine it as they would any other fossil. Would they know it had a trunk? Would they even think it had a trunk?

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6 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Remind yourself of the very old joke about the six blind men and an elephant.

Mimishu1995's avatar

OMG I’ve been trolled!!!!!!!!!!

antimatter's avatar

I don’t they would be thinking of a trunk. But some clever person would think up a theory about it.

JLeslie's avatar

I think there is a good chance they would guess wrong. They might come close, but not necessarily perfectly guess what an elephant actually looks like. They probably would figure out that the elephant needs a limb or some way to get food and water.

AshLeigh's avatar

They could probably tell by the bone structure. I don’t know enough about elephants bones to say for sure though.
It’s pretty crazy. They’ve gotten what I’m assuming is a good guess of an entire body based off of a knee, or just a skull.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The chances are that the examination of the skull would lead to the determination that something different was going on at the business end. There would be strange and large anchoring points for the massive musculature and tendons required to support the skull with the weight of the levering trunk. Other adaptations necessary for the remarkable agility required of the trunk would be suspiciously evident, and I bet a team of pathologists would draw the proper conclusions. Then there’s the REALLY big clue if the skull is found with tusks. How did the creature manage to get anything in it’s mouth past those things?

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