In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we want to dedicate today’s EleFACT to a subject we’ve touched on before: the mighty elephant heart.
The average weight for an elephant heart is about 12 to 21 kg (26.5-46.3 lb.) and comprises about 0.5% of the animal’s total body weight. The shape of their heart is a bit atypical: most mammals, humans included, have a single-pointed apex at the base, what we know as the typical heart shape. Elephants have a double-pointed apex at the base, giving it more of a circular shape. Their hearts beat around 25-30 beats per minute while they are standing, increasing by 8 to 10 beats when lying down – much slower than a human heart which averages 70 beats per minute. In simple terms, the heart of an elephant pumps slower than most mammals, but when it does, it pumps harder.
Elephant’s blood vessels are wider and longer than most other mammals, causing them to have higher blood pressure. The ventricles within the heart are separated at the apex, a trait shared with manatees. The ventricle pumps blood out of the heart and is the larger of the two heart chambers. The atrium is the smaller of the two heart chambers. The veins that carry blood from the lower half of the body to the atrium are paired rather than singular, another unique characteristic.
As we have learned, many anatomical systems of the elephant’s body are remarkable and unique. The heart is no different – both literally and figuratively, the size and capabilities of their hearts continue to impress us as we learn more about them.
Photo of Rana