For the past several months we’ve been pinning images to our board, Animals With Big Ears. These cute and (sometimes) cuddly creatures had us wondering more about how ears function in the animal kingdom. When we started digging around, the first question that came to our mind was: Which animal has the biggest ears, anyway?
This distinction belongs to one majestic animal that calls the continent of Africa its home: The African elephant.
As one of the biggest mammals in the world, the African elephant weighs approximately 6.6 tons and measures 10 feet tall. No wonder they have big ears! An African elephant’s ears are so big, in fact, that they can be 1/6 the size of his body, and with complete control he can move them at will.
While humans predominately use their ears for hearing and listening, animal ears have far more interesting applications, including the elephant.
3 Unexpected Uses of Elephant Ears
1. Sun protection. The large surface area and thinness of elephant ears help radiate heat to keep them cool in the blistering heat. This also explains their love of bathing, because wet ears radiate heat away from the body even more effectively.
2. Communication. A lot of personality can be expressed through the ears, too, and elephants use ears to communicate visually. For example, flapping their ears can signify aggression or joy, depending on their mood!
3. Long-distance hearing. An elephant’s ears can hear sounds over long distances, an average of 2.5 miles away. If that weren’t impressive enough, in the best case scenario, an elephant’s range of hearing can reach to more than 6 miles!
We hope you’re heading to a party this weekend, because this is exactly the type of information you can impress your friends with!
Curious about other animal ears around the world? Let us know your favorite animals and we’ll do some research!
Photos by Vanessa Boys Smith