Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 23

elephant - Zoology, Usefulness to the environment, Threat of extinction, Humanity and elephants, Rogue elephant

living subspecies african ears

A large mammal of family Elephantidae; the only living members of order Proboscidea (many extinct forms); almost naked grey skin; massive forehead; small eyes; upper incisor teeth form ‘tusks’; snout elongated as a muscular grasping ‘trunk’; ears large and movable (used to radiate heat). There are two living species. The African elephant is the largest living land animal (height up to 3·8 m/12½ ft), with three subspecies: the savanna (or bush elephant), Cape elephant, and forest elephant (Loxodonta africana). The Asian elephant has four subspecies: Indian elephant, Ceylon elephant, Sumatran elephant, and Malaysian elephant (Elephas maximus). The African is larger, with larger ears, a triangular lip on the top and bottom of the trunk tip (not just on the top), and obvious tusks in the female.

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