EleFact Friday: Jacobson’s Organ

Happy EleFACT Friday!

Have you heard of the Jacobson’s organ? Named after Ludwig Jacobson, it is also known as the vomeronasal organ or VNO and helps elephants in pheromone detection. Other mammals, reptiles, and amphibians also have one. When elephants can’t collect all the information they need about something through their normal sense of smell, they may pick up the substance or collect it into their trunk. The prehensile structure, or the “finger” at the tips of their trunks, allows the chemosensory stimuli to transfer to the Jacobson’s organ, which is an opening in the roof of their mouths that is connected to the oral and nasal cavities. This behavior is known as the flehmen response and is characterized by the elephant curling its trunk into its mouth. Some are familiar with this response in cats, when they open their mouths after smelling something or horses when they lift their lips.


  1. REPLY
    Sallie says

    FASCINATING! Many of us take for granted these complicated stimuli of elephants. We know about those teeny fingers in those trunks and forget about how sophisticated they are! Quite an amazing organism – especially their brains! You can see how complex their minds are by their behavior. I LIVE FOR ELEFACT FRIDAYS! Thank you!

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    Andy says

    Very Cool. The more you teach us about Eles the more I see how amazing they are in so many ways. Thanks. ❤️?

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    Sunny says

    Like those videos of cats smelling “bad things”?

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Cats do have this same organ – so very likely so!

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    Charlotte Hansen says

    Interesting! Elephants are just the best!!

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    Wim says

    Are humans smart enough to understand how intelligent Elephants are.
    Wonderful new knowledge to me. ??

  6. REPLY
    Sherry says

    This photo is so beautiful all landscape is lush and green! I know that elephant loves her sanctuary life!

  7. REPLY
    Carey says

    Thank you, very interesting info!

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