Elephants are amazing, majestic animals with an ancient heritage. There are two main types of elephants…African and Asian. The elephant is the largest land animal on Earth.
The picture at the top of the page is of African elephants.
The Asian elephant inhabits South and Southeast Asia and has smaller ears, a more level back and smoother skin than the African elephant. They range from 7-11 feet high and 6,600 to 11,000 pounds. They are mainly used as work animals. Unlike the African elephant, the Asian elephant is an endangered species.
The massive African elephant can measure up to 13 feet tall and 15,000 pounds. I find that extraordinary! They inhabit the African bush, forest and sub-Saharan Africa.
The trunk is used for grasping objects, breathing, sound production, smelling (its sense of smell is four times that of a Bloodhound), for a touch as a greeting, to siphon water to put in their mouths and even as a snorkel when crossing a deep body of water. The tusks are used as weapons, for moving large objects, and for digging. The large ear flaps act as a thermostat to control the elephants’ temperature.
The African elephant has a two-lobed trunk which allows it to grasp an object. I’m sure you’ve all seen an elephant pick up a peanut; and they can do it without crushing it. An Asian elephant’s trunk has only one lobe, so it must wrap it around an object to pick it up.
An African elephant’s skin can be up to 1″ thick in certain spots and is more wrinkled than the Asian elephant. It has larger ears and a more concave back than the Asian variety.
Elephants are herbivores and will consume leaves, twigs, fruit, bark, grass and roots. They can consume as much as 330 pounds of food and 11 gallons of water per day.
The elephant belongs to the order Proboscidea which contains living and extinct forms of elephants such as the Mastodon and Woolly Mammoth. They are in the family Elephantidae. The earliest form of Mastodon dates back to the Oligocene epoch, 22-39 million years ago. The Mastodons inhabited Africa which, at that time, was a Tropical Zone. The Woolly Mammoth existed from the Pliocene epoch, 5 million years ago to the Holocene epoch 4,500 years ago.
The elephant’s closest relative is the manatee and the dugong which are two of four remaining species of the order Sirinea. The dugong is similar in some aspects to the manatee. Elephants are herbivores and prefer to stay near water. Theirs is a matriarchal society, which means that the females and their young stay together; and the males at puberty form their own group or live a solitary life. The gestation period for a baby elephant is two years; and elephants can live up to 70 years.
The elephant’s intelligence has been compared to primates and dolphins. They have shown empathy toward the dead and dying elephants in their group.
Sadly, elephants are still being poached for their ivory.
Thank you for stopping by; and I hope you enjoyed learning about elephants.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Have you ever seen an Asian or African elephant?