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African elephants (also known as savannah elephants) are the species of elephants in the genus Loxodonta (Greek for 'oblique-sided tooth'), one of the two existing genera in Elephantidae.

The African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), also known as the African savanna elephant, is one of two extant African elephant species and one of three extant elephant species. It is the largest living terrestrial animal, with bulls reaching an average shoulder height of 3.04–3.36 metres (10.0–11.0 ft) and a body mass of 5.2–6.9 tonnes (11,500–15,200 lb), with the largest recorded specimen having a shoulder height of 3.96 metres (13.0 ft) and a body mass of 10.4 tonnes (22,900 lb).

It is distributed across 37 African countries and inhabits forests, grasslands and woodlands, wetlands and agricultural land. Since 2021, it has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is threatened foremost by habitat destruction, and in parts of its range also by poaching for meat and ivory.

It is a social mammal, travelling in herds composed of cows and their offspring. Adult bulls usually live alone or in small bachelor groups. It is a herbivore, feeding on grasses, creepers, herbs, leaves, and bark. The menstrual cycle lasts three to four months, and females are pregnant for 22 months, the longest gestation period of any mammal. The African bush elephant has grey skin with scanty hairs. Its large ears cover the whole shoulder, and can grow as large as 2 m × 1.5 m (6 ft 7 in × 4 ft 11 in). Its large ears help to reduce body heat; flapping them creates air currents and exposes large blood vessels on the inner sides to increase heat loss during hot weather. The African bush elephant's ears are pointed and triangular shaped. Its occipital plane slopes forward. Its back is shaped markedly concave. Its sturdy tusks are curved out and point forward. It's long trunk or proboscis ends with two finger-like tips. The African bush elephant is the largest and heaviest land animal. On average, males are about 3.20 m (10.5 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh 6.0 t (6.6 short tons), while females are smaller at about 2.60 m (8 ft 6 in) tall at the shoulder and 3.0 t (3.3 short tons) in weight. The maximum recorded shoulder height of an adult bull is 3.96 m (13.0 ft), with this individual having an estimated weight of 10.4 t (11.5 short tons). Elephants attain their maximum stature when they complete the fusion of long-bone epiphyses, occurring in males around the age of 40 and females around 25 years of age


Taxonomy and evolution[edit][]

See also: African elephant § Taxonomy

In the 19th and 20th centuries, several zoological specimens were described by naturalists and curators of natural history museums from various parts of Africa, including:

  • Elephas (Loxodonta) oxyotis and Elephas (Loxodonta) knochenhaueri by Paul Matschie in 1900. The first was a specimen from the upper Atbara River in northern Ethiopia, and the second a specimen from the Kilwa area in Tanzania.
  • Elephas africanus toxotis, selousi, peeli, cavendishi, orleansi and rothschildi by Richard Lydekker in 1907 who assumed that ear size is a distinguishing character for a race. These specimens were shot in South Africa, Mashonaland in Zimbabwe, Aberdare Mountains and Lake Turkana area in Kenya, Somaliland, and western Sudan, respectively.
  • North African elephant (L. a. pharaohensis) by Paulus Edward Pieris Deraniyagala in 1948 was a specimen from Fayum in Egypt.

Today, these names are all considered synonyms.

A genetic study based on mitogenomic analysis revealed that the African and Asian elephant genetically diverged about 7.6 million years ago. Phylogenetic analysis of nuclear DNA of African bush and forest elephants, Asian elephant, woolly mammoth, and American mastodon revealed that the African bush elephant and the African forest elephant form a sister group that genetically diverged at least 1.9 million years ago. They are therefore considered distinct species. Gene flow between the two species, however, might have occurred after the split. Some authors have suggested that L. africana evolved from Loxodonta atlantica.

The fossil record for L. africana is sparse. The earliest possible records of the species are from the Shungura Formation around Omo in Ethiopia, which are dated to the Early Pleistocene, around 2.44-2.27 million years ago. Another possible early record is from the Kanjera site in Kenya, dating to the Middle Pleistocene, around 500,000 years ago. Genetic analysis suggests a major population expansion between 500,000-100,000 years ago. Records become more common during the Late Pleistocene, following the extinction of the last African Palaeoloxodon species, Palaeoloxodon iolensis..Fossil members of Loxodonta have only been found in Africa, where they developed in the middle Pliocene.

African elephant society is arranged around family units. In each family unit are around ten individuals made up of closely related females and their calves. Each family unit is led by an old female known as the matriarch. When separate family units bond, they form kinship groups or bond groups. After puberty, male elephants tend to form alliances with other males.

Elephants are at their most fertile between the ages of 25 and 45. Calves are born after a gestation period of nearly two years. They are cared for by their mother and other young females in the group, known as allomothers.

Elephants use some vocalisations that are beyond the hearing range of humans, to communicate across large distances. The dental formula of the African bush elephant is

1.0.3.30.0.3.3 × 2 = 26. They develop six molars in each jaw quadrant that erupt at different ages and differ in size. The first molars grow to a size of 2 cm (0.79 in) wide by 4 cm (1.6 in) long, are worn by the age of one year and lost by the age of about 2.5 years. The second molars start protruding at the age of about six months, and grow to a size of 4 cm (1.6 in) wide by 7 cm (2.8 in) long and are lost by the age of 6–7 years. The third molars protrude at the age of about one year, grow to a size of 5.2 cm (2.0 in) wide by 14 cm (5.5 in) long, and are lost by the age of 8–10 years. The fourth molars show by the age of 6–7 years, grow to a size of 6.8 cm (2.7 in) wide by 17.5 cm (6.9 in) long and are lost by the age of 22–23 years. The dental alveoli of the fifth molars are visible by the age of 10–11 years. They grow to a size of 8.5 cm (3.3 in) wide by 22 cm (8.7 in) long and are worn by the age of 45–48 years. The dental alveoli of the last molars are visible by the age of 26–28 years. They grow to a size of 9.4 cm (3.7 in) wide by 31 cm (12 in) long and are well worn by the age of 65 years.

Both sexes have tusks, which erupt when they are 1–3 years old and grow throughout life. Tusks grow from deciduous teeth known as tushes that develop in the upper jaw and consist of a crown, root and pulpal cavity, which are completely formed soon after birth. Tushes reach a length of 5 cm (2.0 in). They are composed of dentin and coated with a thin layer of cementum. Their tips bear a conical layer of enamel that is usually worn off when the elephant is five years old. Tusks of bulls grow faster than tusks of cows. Mean weight of tusks at the age of 60 years is 109 kg (240 lb) in bulls and 17.7 kg (39 lb) in cows. The longest known tusk of an African bush elephant measured 3.51 m (11.5 ft) and weighe

African elephants can eat up to 450 kilograms of vegetation per day though their digestive system is not very efficient and only 40% of this food is properly digested. They use their trunk to pluck at leaves and their tusks to tear at branches, which can cause enormous damage.

African elephants are highly intelligent, and they have a very large and highly convoluted neocortex, a trait also shared by humans, apes and certain dolphin species. They are amongst the world's most intelligent species. With a mass of just over 5 kg (11 lb), elephant brains are larger than those of any other land animal, and although the largest whales have body masses twenty-fold those of a typical elephant, whale brains are barely twice the mass of an elephant's brain. The elephant's brain is similar to that of humans in terms of structure and complexity - such as the elephant's cortex having as many neurons as a human brain, suggesting convergent evolution.

Elephants exhibit a wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, learning, allomothering, mimicry, art, play, a sense of humor, altruism, use of tools, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, memory and possibly language. All point to a highly intelligent species that are thought to be equal with cetaceans and primates.

Battle against Moose[]

A moose stumbles upon an elephant during musth and swings its trunk at it. The Moose backs away but then proceeds to charge at the elephant's side. The elephant bends its head down and tosses the moose onto the ground with it's tusks. The moose gets up and decides to charge head on. The elephant sends it flying with its tusks and the large deer retreats.

Winner-Elephant

Experts Opinion- The Elephant is too big for the moose to do any significant damage.

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