Elephants

16 species

Elephants are the largest existing land animals and only three species are currently recognized: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs, whereas Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs. Distinctive features of all elephants include a long proboscis called a trunk, tusks, large ear flaps, massive legs, and tough but sensitive skin. The trunk is used for breathing, bringing food and water to the mouth, and grasping objects. Tusks, which are derived from the incisor teeth, serve both as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. The large ear flaps assist in maintaining a constant body temperature as well as in communication. The pillar-like legs carry their great weight. Elephants have a fission-fusion society, in which multiple family groups come together to socialize. Females (cows) tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups, which do not include males (bulls), are usually led by the oldest cow, known as the matriarch. Males (bulls) leave their family groups when they reach puberty and may live alone or with other males. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness and even show empathy for dying and dead family members. These beautiful animals are highly recognizable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature, and popular culture.
Elephants are the largest existing land animals and only three species are currently recognized: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs, whereas Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs. Distinctive features of all elephants include a long proboscis called a trunk, tusks, large ear flaps, massive legs, and tough but sensitive skin. The trunk is used for breathing, bringing food and water to the mouth, and grasping objects. Tusks, which are derived from the incisor teeth, serve both as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. The large ear flaps assist in maintaining a constant body temperature as well as in communication. The pillar-like legs carry their great weight. Elephants have a fission-fusion society, in which multiple family groups come together to socialize. Females (cows) tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups, which do not include males (bulls), are usually led by the oldest cow, known as the matriarch. Males (bulls) leave their family groups when they reach puberty and may live alone or with other males. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness and even show empathy for dying and dead family members. These beautiful animals are highly recognizable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature, and popular culture.