eli5: how do elephants syringe and spray water with their trunks?


As the title says, why do they not accidentally drown themselves or something?

Edit: bonus questions – can and do they sneeze? Can they have a deviated septum?

In: 3

Have you ever filled your mouth with water and not swallow it? You didn’t drown right? This is because you can feel the water and know when too much is too much. Same goes for elephants. They know their limits and when too much is too much.

Because elephants’ trunks aren’t built like human noses. They’ve got a muscular structure that lets them pinch their nasal passages closed before they enter the skull so water doesn’t get back there, or into their lungs.

If you really wanted to, even you could put your face down in a pan or bucker of water, suck water up into your nose and into your mouth, filling both mouth and your nasal cavity. You would do this, with your nose suberged, by opening your jaw and expanding your cheeks like you are suckling or trying to drink through a coffee straw, but with lips shut tight.

You could do this while protecting ypur airway, using a sucking, not an inhaling action.

Then, using both exhalation and expelling water from the mouth using cheeks and tongue, ypu could forcefully blast all that water back out your nose.

Most mammals could.

Elephants are just WAY better at this. Their trunk is big, has tens of thousands of muscles which can expand and contract their proboscio-nasal tract, etc.