So too was the giraffe's tongue. The answer lies with the amount of food they need to eat, a new study suggests. It may also explain why some larger herbivores went extinct, says de Boer. And now researchers have sought to understand exactly what that is; and establish why elephants and giraffes have such long trunks and tongues. How much they can bite in one go bite volume is therefore a direct result of these elongated soft mouth parts. Not only are these structures key to the survival of today's elephants and giraffes, the team further proposes that they evolved as a direct adaptation to the quality of edible plants in their environment. The elephant got its trunk, the story goes, because one small elephant child was so curious as to what a hungry crocodile ate for dinner that he got too close to it. So in one aspect of his story Kipling was not so far off after all. The size of an animal's teeth, how it replaces them in its mouth, and how an animal's guts work, would all influence how it eats, and have an impact on the evolution of trunks or tongues.
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