Understanding how elephants use their trunk

The elephant proboscis (trunk) exhibits an extraordinary kinematic versatility as it can manipulate a single blade of grass but also carry loads up to 270 kilograms. Using motion-capture technologies developed for the movie industry, Pr Milinkovitch‘s group demonstrates that the complex behaviours of the elephant trunk emerge from the combination of a finite set of basic movements such as the propagation of an inward curvature and the formation of pseudo-joints. In addition, the Swiss team demonstrates that the elephant trunk velocity obeys a mathematical law observed in human hand drawing movements.

The article was published in the journal Current Biology, on August 23rd 2021.

Check out the UNIGE press release.