The pachyderm evolved around 80 million years ago. It is believed, around 50-60 million years ago the Moeritheriums, approximately the size of current day pigs, were the roots from which the proboscideans evolved. Elephantide is the only sub-species of proboscideans alive today.
There are 3 recognized species of elephants alive today; African Bush elephant, African forest elephant and Asiatic elephant. There are around 700,000 and 40,000 African and Asiatic elephants alive today respectively. The latter’s number has dwindled in the last 50 years due to mass poaching, hunting and human encroachment.
- Asiatic elephants are older than the African elephants, even though the former migrated from Africa. The African elephant appeared only about 1.5 million years ago.
- Asiatic elephants are genetically closer to Mammoths than the African elephants. Morphological evidence suggests Mammoths and Elephas (Asiatic elephant) are sister taxa.
- African elephants tend to be larger in size than the Asiatic elephants. A male Asian elephant may measure avg. 2.75 meters, while a male African elephant may measure anything from 3.4 -4 meters.
- Due to their dwindling number, the Asiatic elephants have been listed under Endangered category by the IUCN list. The African elephants are categorized as Vulnerable species as of yet.
- An Asiatic elephant can live up to 60 years in the wild, while their African cousins can live up to 70 years.
- Poaching for ivory is rampant among Asian elephants than the African elephants. Most of the ivory is smuggled throughout Asia for preparing medications or as jewels.
- Experiencing of Musth, the increasing level of testosterone and libido, is common among both species of elephants. They use Musth to attract female attention during breeding season.
- A female elephant from both species may carry a child for 22 months before giving birth.
- An African elephant has larger ears than the Asian elephants. The former’s ear can easily be spotted because of its shape resembling the shape of African continent.