MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: What is the size of an elephant's heart?

Date: Wed May 26 11:13:54 1999
Posted By: June M. Wingert , RM(NRM), Research Associate, Comparative Pathology Department, Baylor College of Medicine
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 927697115.Zo

Greetings Blue Heron Middle School,

That was a good question, it just so happens that the heart of the African bull elephant can weigh up to 28 kg, which is a size normal for such a large animal. Despite its large size, the circulatory system of the elephant is quite unexceptional. In keeping with the size of the animal, elephant hemoglobin has a higher oxygen affinity than that of other mammals. A peculiarity exists with the ventricles of the elephant. The ventricles are separated at their apex. Also, there are paired venae cavae instead of the usual single vein. These peculiarities are found in other penungulates and are probably primitive.

Due to their enormous size, arteries are supported by ridges of elastic fibers or muscles cells. The veins are supported by having proportionately thicker walls than other mammals. The blood vessels of the elephant can achieve lengths of up to 350 cm, which require a high blood pressure in order to prevent their collapse if they had thin walls.

Something else that was an interesting fact is that the human heart beats at the rate of 70 per minute, The mouse beats 500 times a minute and the elephant beats a mere 28 times a minute.

Not sure if you are interested but, the elephant produces 110 kg/day of fecal matter and its urinary Output is 50 litres/day.

The African elephant´s ears act as a heat radiator. Similar to a human sweating and a dog panting the elephant´s ears have large arteries and veins near the skin on the back of the ear that pump blood through a filter of networked capillaries as the ears fan.

I have listed some pretty neat links where you can get a wealth of information on the elephant. (link defunct as of 8/22/2006)

Help Save the Elephants is a nice link where you can sign a petition to help same elephants being mistreated in zoos and circuses.

Go to The Absolut Elephant home page to get the answers to Frequently asked questions. There is also a glossary, definitions and terminilogy concerning elephants.

This is a really great page, it is called "Join Talkway: Wildlife". Whatever your question, at Talkway you'll find millions of people with answers, tips, and pointers for you. So stop searching; just come, post your question, and get your info! If you would like to see a continuously updating image of an elephant go to the following link, The picture should automatically reload every 20 seconds: I want to thank you for taking the time to send in a question to the Mad Scientist Network. I also hope that you enjoy the above links on elephants, it should be adequate enough to answer any question you may have about our Noble Beast, The Elephant.

June Wingert RM (NRM) (ASM)

Baylor College of Medicine

Department of Comparative Pathology

Houston, Texas

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