What's the terminal velocity of an elephant and would would happen when it landed?

1. Approximately what would be the terminal velocity of an adult African elephant? Would it be about the same as a person?

2. Suppose an adult elephant were dropped from a height sufficient to ensure it reached terminal velocity - say, one mile - and it landed on a parking lot without any cars on it. Would it penetrate the parking lot’s surface, or explode?

An elephant’s terminal velocity would be substantially higher than a person’s - terminal velocity is proportial to the square root of (m/A) where m is the mass of the object falling and A is the area the object presents to the air resisting its fall. An elephant has more surface area than a human, but it has much more mass than a human.

There’s a famous quote from Haldane about this problem "To the mouse and any smaller animal it presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes.
" http://irl.cs.ucla.edu/papers/right-size.html

The elephant would splash.

Hope that helps

Andy

(Since the question’s been answered seriously now)

I think if you properly extrapolate the statement, you’ll calculate that an elephant spla-dooshes

[What is the terminal velocity of a sperm whale? - Factual Questions - Straight Dope Message Board](Numbers for a whale.) I’ll run 'em for an elephant tomorrow. I think we can assume a sphere as its shape in order to find our C[sub]d[/sub] (drag coefficient).

There’s an episode of Mythbusters I’d rather not see.

Is this quote accurate? I heard recently and I cannot remember where, that a cat had a good chance to survive a fall of the Empire State Building and was already at terminal velocity. Is a rat just too aerodynamic for a similar fall?

Running the numbers for the largest elephant ever, 12,000 kg with a (spherical) diameter of 4.2 meters, or for the average size of 7,000 kg with a diameter of 3.2 m, I’m getting 168 m/s.

A human skydiver averages 55 m/s in the belly to Earth orientation, and up to 140 m/s in a head down orientation.

If we knew exactly why the elephant had thought, “Oh no, not again,” we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we currently do.

Well it’s obvious isn’t it. He remembered the last time he was turfed out of an airplane or whatever.

I mean, elephants never forget

African or Indian?

That joke doesn’t work. He specified African in the OP.

(I only note this because I wanted to use it at first, too.)

What if two elephants were dropped together?

Here is a dramatized version of this question.