The elephant proboscis (trunk) exhibits an extraordinary kinematic versatility as it can manipulate a single blade of grass but also carry loads up to 270 kilograms. Using motion-capture technologies developed for the movie industry, we demonstrate that the complex behaviours of the elephant trunk emerge from the combination of a finite set of basic movements such as the propagation of an inward curvature and the formation of pseudo-joints. In addition, we show that the elephant trunk velocity obeys a mathematical law observed in human hand drawing movements. These results are published today in the journal Current Biology.
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Elephants evolved strategies reducing the biomechanical complexity of their trunk
Dagenais, Hensman, Haechler & Milinkovitch*
Current Biology, Vol. 31 (August 2021)