Can elephants be right or left-tusked?

BBC Wildlife writer Sarah McPherson answers your wild question.

An African elephant wades through water

An African elephant wades through water © Theo Allofs / Corbis Documentary / Getty


Yes. Just as humans are right- or left-handed, elephants are known to use one tusk more than the other. This favoured appendage is sometimes referred to as the ‘master tusk’ and often appears more worn. Tusks are evolved from teeth and have all sorts of uses – in defence, as weapons, for stripping bark, foraging and digging.


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