Contest Directions: Photoshop this elephant family (click to download) any way you wish. Some examples are: dressing up the elephant family, putting people or animals on these elephants, placing the elephant family in some new environment, movies, paintings. These are just some ideas.
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Many thanks to Oskar Henriksson and Stock Exchange for providing the source image.
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This contest is fueled by the following news: The elephant (Latin - Elephantidae) is in the family consisting of the largest and strongest of all the mammals presently living on earth. They are high thick-skinned animals living in tropical regions of Asia and Africa who eat the young shoots of trees and bushes. Elephants have a massive head and body, long trunk, large fanlike ears and ivory tusks. The family belongs to the group of hemipterous (Proboscidea). The boneless muscular trunk of the elephants is knit strongly like an extended upper lip and nose. It terminates, depending upon the type of animal, with one or two exuberances, which at a simultaneous inhalation of air through nostrils can be used as fingers for grabbing small objects. Using the trunk, the elephants direct the food and water into their mouth shower themselves with dust, pour, and blow and make different sounds. This sensitive organ is very vital for them, it turns in all the directions, grabbing very thin objects, and in case of any threat of injury it can twist very swiftly.
The huge tusks of the elephant are the second pair of upper teeth, which grow to improbable sizes, and a considerable part of this tooth is deeply merged in the bones of the skull. The small milk tusks of young animals are replaced by the permanent ones, which continue to grow during life. The molar is formed like a pile of cross-section vertical plates, each of which has its own roots with a pulp, and all together they are joined by cement into a large enamel-dental block in length about 30 cm and weight 3.6–4.1 kg. In total the elephant has 24 molars, but only one of them functions at any point in time on each side of the upper and bottom jaws. Having worn out, it falls out, and in its place comes the other larger one from behind. The largest molar replaces it, when the animal reaches approximately 40 years of age, and serves for more than 20 years till its death. Under favorable conditions, elephants live for more than 60 years.
The elephant is considered as a clever animal, in absolute terms though its brain is very large, but as compared to the huge size of the elephant’s body the brain is disproportionately small. The short and thick muscular neck is for balancing the huge head with the tusks, but it allows only limited movements. The small eyes are surrounded by long thick eyelashes. The big fanlike ears, like fans, constantly produce hot tropical air. Its feet are like vertical columns, the fingers are directed downwards, and therefore the heels are raised over the ground and the weight of the body leans mainly against the thick pillow behind the fingers. The short tail terminates with a rigid brush and skin – with a thickness of about 2.5 cm is covered with rough hair.
Between the eye and ear, there is a temporal gland which, the purpose of which is not exactly established. When it becomes more active, the forehead of the animal is blown up, a dark oily liquid comes out from the crack; it indicates the state of extreme excitation (in India it is called “must”), apparently, of sexual character. As a rule, “must” is observed in males, but in general it is found in both the genders. For the first time it appears in young elephants at the age of about 21 years and completely disappears by 50 years.
Elephants are fed with long grass, fruits, tubers, bark of trees, and also thin sprouts, especially fresh. For maintaining a normal weight and strength, the animal must get approx. 250kg of forage and 190 liters of water per day. In captivity, the typical daily diet of an elephant includes 90kg of hay, more than two bags of potatoes and 3kg of onions.
Despite the huge mass and tremendous strength, movements of the elephant are surprisingly smooth and graceful. With normal rhythmical steps, it moves with a speed of 6.4 km/h, and in approx. 50m it can reach a speed of 40 km/h. However, it can not gallop and jump. The ditch that is too wide for it to step over becomes an absolute obstacle for it. The elephant swims very well, maintaining a speed of approximately 1.6 km/h in water for almost 6 hours.
Usually herds of elephants consist of one to four families and unite under the guidance of one of the females of 30-50 individuals, including a group of elephant calves. From time to time, herds are joined by the males who in general are attracted to a single life. Young males sometimes form small and less steady bachelor herds. Some single males (eremite elephants) in old age become very spiteful.