A continuum model of elephant trunks

J Biomech Eng. 1991 Feb;113(1):79-84. doi: 10.1115/1.2894088.


A continuum model is presented that relates the trunk parameters of loading, geometry, and muscle structure to the necessary conditions of static equilibrium. Linear theory for stress-strain behavior is used to describe an elephant trunk for an incremental displacement as the animal slowly lifts a weight at the trunk tip. With this analysis and experimental values for the trunk parameters, the apparent trunk stiffness Ea is estimated for the living animal. For an Asian elephant with a maximum compression strain of 33 percent, Ea is of the order of 10(6) N/m2. The continuum model is quite general and may be applied to similar nonskeletal appendages and bodies of other animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elephants / anatomy & histology
  • Elephants / physiology*
  • Female
  • Models, Biological*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Nose / anatomy & histology
  • Nose / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Posture
  • Reference Values
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tendons / anatomy & histology
  • Tendons / physiology