Elephants have the excellent sense of hearing, smell, strength and tons of other exceptional abilities. However, despite having these many admirable qualities, this largest living land mammal cannot jump.
On an average, an adult elephant weight can range from 4,000 to 7,000 kg. Because of their enormous weight, most believe it is physiologically impossible for an adult elephant to jump. It is also believed that their legs are designed in such a way that they get enough strength to carry their enormous heft rather than to jump.
Elephants also have relatively weak leg muscles and fairly inflexible ankles, and these well could be two of the factors that contribute to it. But strictly speaking, there is not a single study that specifically focuses on why elephants can’t jump. So the reason they can’t is not exactly known as yet.
“Animals that jump need really flexible ankles and really strong Achilles tendons and calf muscles, and elephants have really wimpy lower-leg muscles and not very flexible ankles,” said John Hutchinson, a professor at the Royal Veterinary College in London, in a statement at LiveScience.
In a 2010 study published in the the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hutchinson and his team wrote that elephants generally walk long distances and seldom run, most probably because they have poor endurance for running. Even if they happen to run, they can’t go any faster than 15 miles per hour (24 km per hour). The team also observed that when adult and baby elephant run, all of their feet do not go airborne – they have at least one foot on the ground.
Moreover, elephants do not have any natural predators, so they don’t need the ability to jump as a means to evade attackers. Hutchinson said, “Being big is a defense in and of itself.”