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Its folds increase surface area for heat dissipation. Skin temperature varies from 24 to 32.9 °C (75.2 to 91.2 °F). They have a very large and highly convoluted neocortex, a trait also shared by humans, apes and certain dolphin species.

The trunk contains as many as 60,000 muscles, which consist of longitudinal and radiating sets.

The longitudinals are mostly superficial and subdivided into anterior, lateral, and posterior.

The acute sense of smell uses both the trunk and Jacobson's organ.

Elephants use their trunks for breathing, watering, feeding, touching, dusting, sound production and communication, washing, pinching, grasping, defense and offense.

The "proboscis" or trunk consists wholly of muscular and membranous tissue, and is a tapering muscular structure of nearly circular cross-section extending proximally from attachment at the anterior nasal orifice, and ending distally in a tip or finger.

The feet have more nail-like structures than those of African elephants—five on each forefoot, and four on each hind foot.Average shoulder height of males is 2.75 m (9.0 ft), and average weight is 4 t (4.4 short tons), while average shoulder height of females is 2.4 m (7.9 ft), and average weight is 2.7 t (3.0 short tons).

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The Asian elephant is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching. Since 1986, the Asian elephant has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List as the population has declined by at least 50 percent over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years.It has up to 20 pairs of ribs and 34 caudal vertebrae.Four basic muscle masses—the radial, the longitudinal and two oblique layers—and the size and attachments points of the tendon masses allow the shortening, extension, bending, and twisting movements accounting for the ability to hold, and manipulate loads of up to 300 kg (660 lb).Muscular and tendinous ability combined with nervous control allows extraordinary strength and agility movements of the trunk, such as sucking and spraying of water or dust and directed air flow blowing.The epidermis and dermis of the body average 18 mm (0.71 in) thick; skin on the dorsum is 30 mm (1.2 in) thick providing protection against bites, bumps, and adverse weather.