If you are a parent, then the question '...Why do elephants have big ears..? is likely to be one of many that your child or children will ask you. You will feel that you should know the answer, but as with many things in life - you will struggle to find a reasonable or even 'truthful' answer. Lying is usually the best coarse of action as this can avoid the embarrassing situation of appearing ignorant. But worry no more, as the answer to 'Why do elephants have big ears?' can be discovered below.
Why are elephants ears so big?
Overheating is a big problem for large mammals and as the elephant is the worlds largest living land animal, it's ears have evolved to stop them from boiling to death.
The enormous ears of elephants act as cooling devices. This works because their large ears contain an intricate web of large blood vessels that are situated just below the surface of the skin. As an elephant heats up, they pump hot blood into these specialised veins which allows the heat to escape into the air. Their gigantic ear flaps can measure up to 2 square metres and when the elephant flaps its ears, the blood temperature can drop by as much as 5 degrees Celsius!
The pattern these specialised blood vessels create in the ears are unique to each elephant and can be used to identify them, like human fingerprints.
Because of the high day time temperatures, hot Savannah-dwelling African elephants have evolved larger ears than their forest-dwelling Indian cousins.
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Photo care of http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/qi/8880869/QI-Quite-interesting-facts-about-ears.html and http://www.elephant-facts.com/elephant-ears-skin-and-legs/