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Understanding the anatomy of an elephant is the sine qua
non for successful post-mortem of the animal. The
following notes are meant to provide the field veterinarians
with a basic understanding of the special anatomical
peculiarities of elephants.
1. Digestive system
•        The proboscis, though a respiratory organ, acts as a
prehensile organ to grasp the food and conveys it to the
mouth for mastication.
•        The lips are two musculo-membranous folds which
surround the orifice of the mouth. The upper lip merges
with the lower face of the proboscis. The lower lip is
elongated with a pointed tip.
•        The upper jaw has two incisors or tusks, one in each
premaxilla. The tusks of the male grow to an enormous
size in the adult Asian elephants. They are relatively much
smaller in the female. There are male elephants which do
not have tusks and are called Makhnas. Both cows and
Makhnas possess tushes instead of tusks.
•        The sub-lingual salivary gland and the sub-maxillary
glands are present. The tonsils are absent.
•        The pharynx is a funnel shaped musculo-
membranous sac common to both digestive and
respiratory system. The soft palate divides the cavity into a
dorsal large nasopharynx and a ventral small
oesopharynx. The oesophagus communicates in front with
the oral cavity and forms a deep diverticulum or receptacle
(glosso-epiglottic space) behind the root of the tongue.
•        Oesophagus, a thick walled musculo-membranous
tube, is compressed dorsoventrally.
•        The peritoneum, lining the abdominal cavity, is very
thick and is reflected to cover the viscera. The greater
omentum, which is one such reflection, is thin, lace like and
devoid of fat. It is very extensive, attached to the greater
curvature of the stomach and the origin of the duodenum.
•        Stomach is a simple elongated musculo-
membranous sac placed vertically behind the left part of
the diaphragm and the liver.

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