Elephant Bones
February 21, 2008 6:06 AM   Subscribe

Exactly how many bones does an adult elephant have?
posted by tarvuz to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Try this.
posted by o0dano0o at 6:19 AM on February 21, 2008

..or this
posted by o0dano0o at 6:24 AM on February 21, 2008

Thanks for the links but I am still waiting for the definitive answer.
posted by tarvuz at 6:35 AM on February 21, 2008

Your definitive answer is probably in this book chapter, which you may be able to get access to through a university library (dead tree or PDF).
posted by Rumple at 10:19 AM on February 21, 2008

That Fowler chapter doesn't offer a definitive answer either. The first sentence says, "Over 200 bones comprise the skeletal system of the elephant." And then he cites a few key differences between Asian and African elephants, such as number of ribs and vertebra, and toenails.
posted by booknerd at 11:16 AM on February 21, 2008

I'm sorry, to clarify, if you want a definitive answer you need to be more taxonomically specific.
posted by booknerd at 11:19 AM on February 21, 2008

Well I am fine with any definitive number of bones of any type of elephant.

You see, I had a bet with my nieces that I could find out anything on the internet and so far I cannot figure out this challenge.
posted by tarvuz at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2008

This says 262 for the Asian elephant. However, note that the authors go on to describe quite a lot of variation between individuals in such features as caudal vertebrae. So, not only does the answer depend on "what species" it probably depends on "which individual". This is not unusual in the animal kingdom, many humans have extra ribs, for example, and I know a woman who was born with no fibulae midsections.

Pay your nieces, then make them take you for ice cream.
posted by Rumple at 8:46 AM on February 22, 2008

If your nieces are interested in dissecting and assembling their own elephant skeleton, there is no better online source than (PDF): TECHNIQUES & PROCEDURE FOR POST-MORTEM OF ELEPHANTS. The list of recommended surgical instruments includes:

1. Large knives
2. Axe (small and big)
3. Handsaws
4. Chain saw and hack-saw
5. Bone cutter
6. Crow-bar
7. Hammer and chisels
8. Scalpel handles
9. Scalpel blades
10. Surgical scissors
11. Forceps
12. Chisel
13. Iron spatula
14. Ropes
15. Magnifying glass
16. Torches (Flash light)
17. Emergency lamps/Generator
18. Camera
19. Vehicle fitted with light focusing facilities.
20. Metal detector (to search bullets)

These pictures give a good idea of the scale of the problem.
posted by Rumple at 9:14 AM on February 22, 2008

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