A pair of African elephants


Proboscidea are an order of mammals instantly recognisable by their highly developed 'nose' or proboscis - a muscular trunk that functions as a fifth limb. The three modern elephant species are all that remain of these once widespread, large herbivores. Mastodons and closely related mammoths survived right up until 10,000 years ago, so would have been hunted by early humans. Proboscideans sport impressive tusks derived from the upper incisors. Used for foraging and fighting, these grew to spectacular proportions in the mammoths. The largest Proboscidea species ever, which was about 30% larger than today's African elephant, was probably the Songhua River mammoth.

Scientific name: Proboscidea

Rank: Order

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Elephants Elephants
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.

Prehistoric life


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

When they lived

Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.