Elephants are represented by three living species: Asian, African forest and African bush. As the largest living mammals in the world, healthy adults have no natural predators, though the calves have plenty to fear from lions and tigers.
The elephant's distinctive trunk is very versatile and can perform the functions of hand, foot and nose. Their large ears also play an important role in regulating body temperature. Elephants are very intelligent animals and highly social, living in groups led by the oldest female, or matriarch. Adult males are relatively solitary only coming together in loose bachelor herds.
Did you know?
An elephant’s skin is so sensitive that it can feel a fly landing.
Scientific name: Elephantidae
The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
A comparison of elephant size in relation to humans - from the 5m tall, 17 tonne Songhua River mammoth to the 2m tall, 900kg pygmy mammoth.
Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.
The Elephantidae are a taxonomic family, collectively elephants and mammoths. These are terrestrial large mammals with a trunk and tusks. Most genera and species in the family are extinct. Only two genera, Loxodonta (African elephants) and Elephas (Asiatic elephants), are living.
The family was first described by John Edward Gray in 1821, and later assigned to taxonomic ranks within the order Proboscidea. Elephantidae have also been revised by various authors to include or exclude other extinct proboscidean genera.
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