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This is Scientific American ― 60-Second Science. I'm Karen Hopkin.
Elephants don't diet, as far as we know.
But their weight does fluctuate, at least for the ones who live in a zoo.
Now, researchers have found that this gain and loss in an elephant's mass appears to hinge on their jaws―
more specifically, the unusual way these animals replace their teeth.
The results appear in the journal Mammalian Biology.
Researchers at the University of Zurich's Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife
were exploring how an elephant's mass tracks with its overall physique―
whether the animal is jumbo-sized or svelte, for an elephant.
So they gathered data on the entire population of captive elephants throughout Europe.
The clinic's Marcus Clauss is a professor of comparative digestive physiology:
"This was due to the commitment of a student I had at the time, who is called Christian Schiffmann, who was the driving force behind all this.
Because Christian visited basically every European zoo that keeps elephants."
He returned with records revealing the relative heft of the resident pachyderms.
At first glance, his observations were not so surprising.
"As in western societies, also in the zoo, a lot of beings tend to be less than an ideal body condition and a little bit more on the obese side.
And elephants are just the same in that respect."
这里是科学美国人――60秒科学。我是凯伦・霍普金。
据我们所知,大象是不节食的。
但是它们的体重却会上下波动,至少生活在动物园里的大象会如此。
现在,研究人员发现大象体重的增减似乎取决于其下颚――
更准确地说,是它们换牙的不寻常方式。
研究结果发表在《哺乳动物生物学》期刊上。
苏黎世大学动物园动物、异国宠物和野生动物诊所的研究人员
此前一直在探索大象体重如何随其整体形态而变化――
大象是体型庞大还是身形苗条。
因此,他们收集了欧洲圈养大象整个种群的数据。
在该诊所工作的马库斯・克劳斯是比较消化生理学教授:
“这是我当时的学生克里斯蒂安・希夫曼的功劳,他是所有这一切的推动者。
因为克里斯蒂安几乎走访了欧洲所有饲养大象的动物园。”
他带回来的记录展示了这种当地厚皮动物的相对体重。
乍一看,他的观察结果并不那么令人惊讶。
“在西方社会,动物园里也一样,许多生物往往达不到理想体型状态,通常会有些偏胖。
大象在这方面也是如此。”
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