Elephants are the largest land animals currently in existence. Every elephant has the same distinguishing physical traits: a long trunk, tusks, enormous ear flaps, massive legs, and thick but sensitive skin. The trunk serves as a conduit for air and liquids, as well as a point of contact for picking up and holding objects. Tusks, which originate in the incisor teeth, have multiple uses, such as defense, tools for lifting heavy objects, and digging. The big ear flaps help with both communicating and keeping the body at a steady temperature. Its massive weight is supported by pillar-like legs.
Savannas, woods, deserts, and marshes are just some of the places you can find elephants, but you can also find them in other habitats all around sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. They don’t eat anything but plants, and they always stick close to water. Because of the significant role they play in their ecosystems, these animals are often referred to as keystone species. Elephants live in a civilization characterized by the coexistence of separate family units and more communal gatherings.
There are currently three known species of elephants still in existence, including the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant.
Next, we’ll take a look at the various elephant species, from the tallest to the shortest, and discuss some basic facts about each. Therefore, stay and read on.
1. African Bush Elephant
One of the two living African elephant species is the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), often known as the African savanna elephant. It may be found in 37 different African countries and is a common resident of a wide variety of habitats, including woods, grasslands, marshes, and farmland.
Females have a gestation period that is the longest of any mammal at 22 months, and their menstrual cycles span three to four months.
With a maximum shoulder height of 3.96 m (13.0 ft) and an estimated weight of up to 10.4 t, the African bush elephant is the largest and heaviest terrestrial animal on Earth (11.5 short tons). Males average 3.20 m (10.5 ft) in height at the shoulder and 6.0 t (6.6 short tons) in weight, while females are noticeably smaller at 2.60 m (8 ft 6 in) in height and 3.0 t (3.3 short tons).
Four distinct subspecies of African bush elephants are defined based on subtle differences in genetics and physical appearance;
- Southern African bush elephant
- East African bush elephant (also known as the Masai elephant)
- Western African bush elephant (sometimes called the African plains elephant), and
- Northern African bush elephant.
2. Asian Elephants
The Asian elephant, or Elephas maximus, is the only living species of the genus Elephas and may be found across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, from India in the west to Nepal in the north, Sumatra in the south, and Borneo in the east.
The Asian elephant is smaller than its African bush elephant counterpart and has a higher head-to-body ratio. The rear is either convex or flat. Small and with laterally folded dorsal borders, the ears are delicate. It can have as many as 20 ribs in a single rib cage and 34 vertebrae in its tail.
There are five nail-like structures on each forefoot and four on each hind foot, making them more numerous than in African elephants. Instead of a flat face like that of African elephants, this species has two hemispherical bumps on its forehead.
Bulls reach maturity at a height of 2.75 m (9.0 ft) at the shoulder and a weight of 4 t (4.4 short tons), whereas cows are somewhat smaller at a height of 2.40 m (7.9 ft) at the shoulder and a weight of 2.7 t (3.0 short tons).
The subspecies of the Asian Elephant are as follows;
- Sri Lankan Elephant
The elephants native to Sri Lanka are known as Sri Lankan elephants. These elephants are the largest of the Asian elephant subspecies; they can reach a weight of 4000 to 5,000 kg, a shoulder height of 2 to 3.5 meters, and 19 ribs. The Sri Lankan subspecies of elephants are the darkest of the three. They have larger areas of skin without pigmentation than most others. Among male Sri Lankan elephants, just 7% have tusks.
- Sumatran Elephant
This particular subspecies was originally from Sumatra. These elephants can reach a height of 2–3.2 m at the shoulder and a weight of 2,000–4,000 kg. There are 20 sets of ribs in this subspecies of elephants, and their skin is noticeably paler than that of the other two.
- Indian Elephant
The elephant’s natural habitat is the continent of Asia. They can grow to a shoulder height of 2–3 m, reach a weight of 2000- 5000kg, and sport 19 sets of ribs. The Indian elephant’s skin is lighter than that of the Sri Lankan subspecies but darker than that of the Sumatran. The females are far smaller than the males, and their tusks are either completely absent or very short.
3. African forest elephant
African forest elephants are endemic to the rain forests of West Africa and the Congo Basin. It reaches a shoulder height of 2.4 m, making it the shortest of the three extant elephant species (7 ft 10 in). Both sexes have tusks that grow straight and downward from the time they are one to three years old.
Typically, it will hang out with a group of up to 20 of its closest relatives. It has been called the “mega gardener of the forest” because it consumes a wide variety of plants, including leaves, seeds, fruit, and even tree bark. It plays an important role in preserving the diversity and structure of West Africa’s Guinean Forests and Central Africa’s Congo Basin Rainforests.
4. Borneo Pygmy Elephant
Borneo pygmy elephants, a subspecies of Asian elephants, are around 30 percent less in size than their larger relatives. Males reach adulthood at a height of 1.7–2.6 m (5 ft 6 in–8 ft 6 in), whereas women reach maturity at 1.5–2.2 m (4 ft 11 in–7 ft 2 in).
It is estimated that the average weight is 2,500 kg (5,500 lb). DNA studies supported by the World Wildlife Fund confirmed in September 2003 that Bornean pygmy elephants are a distinct subspecies from other elephants. However, this classification is not universally adopted yet as many people still classify the Asian elephant into 3 subspecies only.
There are an estimated 3,500 of these elephants in Borneo, Malaysia.
The dimension of stuff has been an interest of mine ever since I was a child. What I believe is most fascinating about the dimension of stuff is how extremely long, tall and wide some objects are both on earth and in the universe.