We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Proboscis?

By Andy Josiah
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The term proboscis refers to the nose of an animal, vertebrate or invertebrate, that is long and elongated. The word is in Latin format, tracing its origin to the combination of two Greek words: pro and bosko. The former means “before” or “forward,” while the latter means “to feed” or “to nourish.”

In invertebrates, the proboscis is best described as a feeding and sucking organ of tubular design. For instance, the hoverfly uses its proboscis to extract the nectar of flowers. Other invertebrates with this organ include butterflies, moths, ribbon worms, snails and slugs.

When it comes to vertebrates, the proboscis is most commonly associated with the elephant trunk, which is actually a combination of that mammal’s nose and upper lip. Besides providing a sense of smell, this specialized appendage is incredibly versatile, used for a variety of tasks that include sucking up water for drinking and bathing, picking up grass, uprooting trees and interacting with other elephants.

Another prime example of a vertebrate with a proboscis is a mammal whose name actually incorporates the word: the proboscis monkey. It is also known by the scientific name Nasalis larvatus and alternatively called the long-nosed monkey. The monkey's nose serves as an amplifier for its warning calls in times of danger. Also, it is theorized that the males of the species use their noses to attract potential mates. The proboscis on this type of primate can be as long as 7 inches (17.8 centimeters).

There are other vertebrates that possess the proboscis. The tapir, a pig-like herbivore native to Central and South America as well as Southeast Africa, has a snout that it uses for grasping or holding. The snout on the male elephant seal, which belongs to the genus Mirounga, is said to resemble that of an elephant, and it is capable of producing incredibly loud roaring sound. Other examples include the aardvark, a nocturnal burrowing animal native to Africa; the numbat, a marsupial from Western Australia; the elephant screw, a tiny African insectivore; and the Hispaniolan Solenodon, another nocturnal burrowing animal native to the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Although the term proboscis is not usually applied to humans, it is used as an informal denotation of certain physical abnormalities. For instance, a long, elongated nose on a person can be referred to as a proboscis. The term can also be used when an unusually big nasal organ is accompanied by large eyes.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.