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Definition of Lungs
(Scientific name: Pulmo)

From the elephant glossary Section: elephant anatomy

The position of an elephants Lungs is in blue color
The position of an elephants Lungs is in blue color

Relevant Literature about Lungs
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Air can enter an elephants body through three entrances, its mouth, Trunk and forehead (through internal nares).

The lungs are attached to the diaphragm, and breathing relies mainly on the diaphragm rather than the expansion of the ribcage.[68] Connective tissue exists in place of the pleural cavity. This may allow the animal to deal with the pressure differences when its body is underwater and its Trunk is breaking the surface for air,[32] although this explanation has been questioned.[72] Another possible function for this adaptation is that it helps the animal suck up water through the Trunk. [32] Elephants inhale mostly through the Trunk, although some air goes through the mouth. (Wikipedia)

Elephant lungs have a unique lung physiology: they don't have a pleural space between the lung and the chest wall, In elephants, the pleural cavity is filled with connective tissue.

In 1681, a scientist in Dublin, Ireland, conducted an autopsy on an elephant that had died in a fire and wrote that the elephant's lungs were different from those of any other four-legged animal he'd ever seen. Their lungs are attached directly to the diaphragm and chest wall, allowing them to create much greater "vacuum pressure" for sucking water through their long Trunks , while drinking.

More than 2,300 years ago, Aristotle wrote about elephants crossing rivers and lakes completely submerged, with only the tips of their Trunks above the water, like built-in snorkel tubes. Elephants alone can snorkel while deeply submerged underwater, since plates of the fibrous tissue can extend to accommodate the differential pressures during snorkeling and give the lungs room to breathe.The unusual lung structure enables elephants to withstand the extreme differences in pressure above and below water without rupturing blood vessels in the lining of the lungs.

This might be an indication that elephants evolved from aquatic mammals like manatees. (John B. West 2002)

During tranquilization, elephants must lay on the side in order to be able to breath. If they lie in sternum recumbent position to long time, they may die.

Records about Lungs from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at
I am having trouble trying to convince people that "Safari" died of Tuberculosis, ,airborne Zoonotic disease (Infectious to humans)'>Tuberculosis in 1936. As mentioned before, Eddie Allen was present when he died as well as when he was posted afterward. He said the Vets were amazed that he lived as long as he did since his lungs were almost eaten away.

When the subject of "Safari" came up Eddie Allen said it was a sad story, evidently he had unknowingly come from the Zoo terminally ill from TB. He seemed to be fine the first season but gradually in 1936 he became more and more listless and toward the end of the season moving back and forth from the train, Eddie had to drive him from horseback to make him keep up with the Herd.
Back in the Rochester, Ind. Winter Quarters, "Safari" died on Thanksgiving Day.
William Buckles Woodcock

William "Buckles" Woodcocks

From SheldrickFoundation 2011-06-28 Loisabadied, one of Sheldricks Orphans .

The Postmortem revealed that 80% of both lungs had been rendered dysfunctional by nodular whitish material indicating either Tuberculosis, ,airborne Zoonotic disease (Infectious to humans)'>Tuberculosis or Cancer.

Reference list Koehl, Dan, (2024). Lungs. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 20 September 2021 at (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

Selected publications
  • West, John B. 2002. "Why Doesn't the Elephant Have A Pleural Space," and "Snorkel Breathing in the Elephant Explains the Unique Anatomy of the Pleura." University of California, San Diego's Department of Medicine.

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