In Today's Issue: The Astonishing Abilities of an Elephant’s Trunk

The following story appeared in the [post_published] issue of The Daily Juice. The text is from the 9th-10th grade version. To access the other grade levels, interactive vocabulary (words in bold), quiz questions, and more, sign up for The Juice.

We now know elephants are even more marvelous freaks of nature, thanks to newly discovered and unexpected capabilities of their trunks. Not only do they use their trunks to store water, smell, and communicate with bellows heard for miles, they also can use them to uproot a tree or lift something as small and delicate as a tortilla chip without breaking it. The trunks also boast an incredible sense of smell that’s more powerful than that of bomb-sniffing dogs.

A new study published in The Journal of the Royal Society Interface found elephant trunks have yet another talent: They can use suction to grab food, an ability previously believed exclusive to fish.

“It’s like a muscular multitool,” said Andrew Schulz, a mechanical engineering doctoral student at the Georgia Institute of Technology who worked on the study. The trunks do not have any joints or bones, but instead are composed of 40,000 muscles. 

“They’re really strong; a lot of people underestimate their strength,” Schulz said, explaining why we are still learning about what elephants can do. “We’ve done experiments at the zoo where they’ve literally broken our setups.”  

The study included observing a female elephant named Kelly, who is 34 years old and weighs more than 7,400 pounds, as she used her trunk to grasp different foods. For bigger objects, Kelly used suction, but for smaller ones, Kelly used her two “fingers,” the tips at the end of her trunk. 

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US Politics (Grades 11-12)

Biden Executive Orders Will Reverse Trump Policies

President-elect Joe Biden plans to sign a flurry of executive orders soon after his inauguration tomorrow. He plans to address what he’s calling the four crises facing the country. They are COVID-19, the economic downturn, racial injustice, and climate change.

An executive order is a written directive from the president carrying powers similar to a federal law. Presidents have historically used these orders to push policies forward quickly because they do not require approval from Congress. The downside of executive orders is that they are easily overturned by any new president. That is not true for federal laws.

Among other moves overturning Trump administration policies, Biden’s orders will return the US to the Paris Climate Accord and to the Iran nuclear deal.

Related to the pandemic, Biden will require face masks on federal properties and during interstate travel. Other orders will be aimed at safely reopening schools and businesses.

On immigration, Biden will order agencies to determine how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the US-Mexico border. Another order will end travel restrictions targeting majority-Muslim countries.

Other orders will address “equity and support communities of color,” criminal justice reform, and access to healthcare.

Photo from Reuters.

Bold words are interactive vocab words in The Juice.

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