The majority of the species of Elephantidae are extinct and at present, this family gathers various subspecies corresponding to three principal species: the elephant of savanna and the elephant of forest (formerly gathered under the expression “African elephant”) and the Asian elephant (sometimes in the past Indian elephant) which is characterized by certain anatomical characteristics, Indian elephants being in general smaller.
The elephant is the subject locally of programs and/or projects of reintroduction
The ancestor of the mammoths and the elephants is the phosphaterium, small mammalian without horn and as large as a dog, having lived 60 million years ago
Cut and longevity
The elephants are the largest terrestrial animals currently living: on average, an adult male African elephant measures more than 3 meters to the garrot and weighs more than 5 tons. With the birth, the elephant weighs approximately 120 kg. The largest known elephant was announced in Angola in 1974: it was about a male of 12 tons measuring 4,20 m with the garrot, that is to say one meter more than the average of the African elephants.
Dwarf elephants, size of a large pig, also populated the Mediterranean islands during Prehistory; some are announced in Crete until in 5.000 front J. - C., even until in 3.000 front J. - C. [ref. necessary].
An elephant can live 70 years.
The principal characteristic of the elephants, in addition to their mass, is their horn, a lengthened and prehensile nasal body. Being able to weigh more than 100 kg, this body with to do everything consists of more than 15.000 muscles divided into 40.000 beams circular and longitudinal, which confers to him an exceptional mobility in all the directions.
Defenses and teeth
Generally the elephants have defenses, very lengthened teeth used by these animals like tool, arms with defense and sexual attribute. Defenses are teeth higher than continuous growth. In the elephants, the dental formula is never complete (2 premolars and 3 molars). The elephant calf has milk premolars which fall when the molars appear, but there are no premolars final. When the third molar appears, it is with the tower of the first to fall. An adult elephant has only 2 molars and, when it becomes very old, there remains to him nothing any more but its third molar.
The gestation of the cow elephant, longest of all the terrestrial animals, hard from 20 to 22 month and its duration of breast feeding is included/understood into 36 and 48 months.
The males in musth (rut), whose blood testosterone rate can increase fifty times, agitate the ears and shake the head. Of their penis become green, dégouline a strongly odorous urine.
The cry of the elephant is the trumpeting.
Recent scientific studies showed that the elephants, like many animals, are sensitive to infrasons, even of very weak frequency. The utility of the hearing of these let us infrasons remainder however mysterious. It seems that they are able to communicate between them by the acoustic waves of surface transmitted by the ground.
It is current of reading that the elephant is the only mammal to have four knees. Actually, the elephant has true knees only with its rear limbs, made up of a femur, a kneecap and association tibia-fibula. The forelimbs are made up (inter alia) of a scapula, a humérus, and association radius-ulna (anatomical cf board above).
It is true on the other hand that the forelimb of the elephant presents an articulation to the level of the wrist, between the base of the tibia and the métacarpiens, the animal walking on on the end of the fingers. This articulation evokes indeed a knee and is undoubtedly at the origin of this frequent error.
It is impossible for an elephant to jump, for reasons of a biomechanical nature [desired ref.]. The biomecanicians estimate that it would need oversize muscles. Moreover, its bones would break, either on takeoff, or with the reception of the jump.
The elephant is herbivorous, it eats a large variety of vegetable elements: grass, plants, sheets, fruits, roots and tubers, barks and even of wood. He appreciates for example the wood tender and gorged with sap of the baobab tree.
The food needs for the elephant are important, especially qualitatively. According to its environment, it devotes most of its time in the search of food (16 to 8 p.m. per day), moving on long distances and selecting the richest food. It can be drawn up on its back legs to catch with its horn the most tender branches up to five or six meters height.
Daily, it is necessary for the elephant between 150 and 180 kilograms of food in dry season, and between 200 and 260 kilograms in rain season. These quantities also vary according to the species and from the attended mediums.
An adult elephant drinks approximately hundred liters of water per day. There can remain three or four days without drinking. It can make use of its horn to take again water in its stomach and to make use of it to refresh the skin.
In spite of forty meters of intestine which it has, its digestion is not very effective. It lasts of one to two days, 40 to 60% of food not being digested. If its food is not sufficiently rich, its tonicity, its mood and its health in general are quickly affected.
The food behavior in general has an significant impact on the medium. The assessment of these consequences varies according to the species (Africa, Asia), of the season, of the biotope and the density of the population. Thus, the elephant can be regarded as destructor of trees in particular in savanna, whereas it takes part elsewhere very actively in regeneration in limit of the forest zones. Certain species of trees are dependant on the elephant for their extension: this one, fond of delicacies their fruits, disseminates of them seeds with the excellent compost which its droppings constitute, able to contain up to seed 35%.
In the actual position of knowledge, the elephant is, with the human one, the dolphin and certain species of large monkeys, one of the rare animal species to make a success of the test of the mirror of Gallup: when one marks of a spot the face of an elephant in a point which it cannot see directly and which one presents to him a mirror, it passes its horn on the spot, showing thus that it recognized its image and thus which it has conscience of itself.
Predatory and threats of disappearance
Except the man who drives out it since millenia for his consumption, the only predatory ones of the elephants are the large deer, and in particular the lions which can occasionally attack the elephant calves. However, with the trade of the ivory drawn from defenses, the population of the African and Asian elephants was decimated, passing several million individuals to the beginning of the year 1970 to a few hundreds of thousands 30 years later. So that in 1989, QUOTE it prohibited the trade of the ivory. The hunting of the elephants, from now on considered as protected spaces, since is very regulated.