Proboscidea - elephantsThere are only two living species of proboscidea alive today, the Asian elephant and the African elephant. Elephants are the largest land mammals. At one time there were more species, including the extinct wooly mammoth and the mastodon. Elephants have long trunks; large, fan-like ears; huge bodies; small eyes; and wrinkled gray skin that is lightly covered in hair. Male Asian elephants and male and female African elephants have long, sharp tusks. The tusks are really extra long incisors. The elephant's big, floppy ears are like air conditioners! Elephants have lots of blood vessels in their ears! When the an elephant's ears are wet and the elephant fans them, it cools off the blood in the blood vessels and that helps cool down the rest of the elephant's body!
The elephant's trunk is more than just an extra long nose. It has tens of thousands of muscles in it and is like an extra arm, with "lips." Elephants have one or two lip-like extensions on the end of their trunks that they use to pick up things as small as a single straw! Elephants also use their long trunks to pull down leafy branches on trees, and to bring food to their mouths! They also use their trunks to spray water or and dirt on their backs to help keep clean and cool! Elephants are herbivores and eat as much as 300-400 pounds of leaves, grasses, and other plant parts every day! Elephants live in family groups, or herds, made up of related females and their young, headed by a female! Adult male elephants are usually solitary, but they sometimes gather in small herds. Female elephants give birth to a single baby and nurse them for up to three years. They baby elephant usually stay with and be cared for by its mother for as long as eight to ten years. Elephants can live to be 65-70 years old.
Asian elephants are found in the forests of south and southeast Asia. There are fewer that 30,000 Asian elephants left in the wild and they are endangered. Asian elephants are 18-20 feet long and can weigh as much as 11,000 pounds. The Asian elephant's ears are smaller the the African elephants ears, its skin is not as wrinkled, it has only one lip-like gripper at the end of its trunk, and it has a slightly humped back.
The African elephant is found in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is 19-24 feet in length. It has larger ears than the Asian elephant. In fact, one way to tell the is apart from the Asian elephant is by looking at its ears. The African elephant has ears that look like Africa! It has two lip-like grippers at the end of its trunk!