Animal Portal : Information on animals
Animal Resources
  Endangered Animals New!
  Animal Information New!
  Animal List
  Baby Animals
  Desert Animals
  Rainforest Animals
  Extinct Animals
  Extinct Birds
  Extinct Mammals
  Animal Cells
  Animal Sounds
  Animal Names
  Animal Group's Name
  Animal Crossing
  Stuffed Animals
  Animal Shelters
Cats & Dogs
  Dog as a friend
  Cats
  Cat Care
Animal Issues
  Animal Testing
  Animal Behavior
  Animal Cruelty
  Animal Rights
  Animals In Danger
  Animal League
Animal Pictures and Wallpapers
  Animal Pictures
  Animal Wallpapers
  Cute Animal Pictures
  Stuffed Animal Pictures
Animal Port Partners and Links
  Animal Port Partners
  Sitemap

African Elephants


African Elephants The African elephant and the Asian elephant are the only two surviving species of what was in prehistoric times a diverse and populous group of large mammals. Fossil records suggest that the elephant has some unlikely distant relatives, namely the small, rodentlike hyrax and the ungainly aquatic dugong. They all are thought to have evolved from a common stock related to ungulates. In East Africa many well-preserved fossil remains of earlier elephants have aided scientists in dating the archaeological sites of prehistoric man.

Physical Charecteristics


The African elephant is the largest living land mammal, one of the most impressive animals on earth.

Of all its specialized features, the muscular trunk is the most remarkable it serves as a nose, a hand, an extra foot, a signaling device and a tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, digging and a variety of other functions. Not only does the long trunk permit the elephant to reach as high as 23 feet, but it can also perform movements as delicate as picking berries or caressing a companion. It is capable, too, of powerful twisting and coiling movements used for tearing down trees or fighting. The trunk of the African elephant has two finger-like structures at its tip, as opposed to just one on the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).

The tusks, another remarkable feature, are greatly elongated incisors (elephants have no canine teeth); about one-third of their total length lies hidden inside the skull. The largest tusk ever recorded weighed 214 pounds and was 138 inches long. Tusks of this size are not found on elephants in Africa today, as over the years hunters and poachers have taken animals with the largest tusks. Because tusk size is an inherited characteristic, it is rare to find one now that would weigh more than 100 pounds.

Both male and female African elephants have tusks, although only males in the Asiatic species have them. Tusks grow for most of an elephant's lifetime and are an indicator of age. Elephants are "right- or left-tusked," using the favored tusk more often as a tool, thus, shortening it from constant wear. Tusks will differ in size, shape and direction; researchers use them (and the elephant's ears) to identify individuals.

Although the elephant's remaining teeth do not attract the ivory poacher, they are nonetheless interesting and ultimately determine the natural life span of the elephant. The cheek teeth erupt in sequence from front to rear (12 on each side, six upper and six lower), but with only a single tooth or one and a part of another, being functional in each half of each jaw at one time. As a tooth becomes badly worn, it is pushed out and replaced by the next tooth growing behind. These large, oblong teeth have a series of cross ridges across the surface. The last molar, which erupts at about 25 years, has the greatest number of ridges but must also serve the elephant for the rest of its life. When it has worn down, the elephant can no longer chew food properly; malnutrition sets in, hastening the elephant's death, usually between 60 and 70 years of age.

The African elephant's ears are over twice as large as the Asian elephant's and have a different shape, often described as similar to a map of Africa. The nicks, tears and scars as well as different vein patterns on the ears help distinguish between individuals. Elephants use their ears to display, signal or warn when alarmed or angry, they spread the ears, bringing them forward and fully extending them. The ears also control body temperature. By flapping the ears on hot days, the blood circulates in the ear's numerous veins; the blood returns to the head and body about 9 F cooler.

The sole of the elephant's foot is covered with a thick, cushionlike padding that helps sustain weight, prevents slipping and deadens sound. When they need to, elephants can walk almost silently. An elephant usually has five hoofed toes on each forefoot and four on each hind foot. When it walks, the legs on one side of the body move forward in unison.

Sometimes it is difficult for the layman to distinguish between male and female elephants as the male has no scrotum (the testes are internal), and both the male and the female have loose folds of skin between the hind legs. Unlike other herbivores, the female has her two teats on her chest between her front legs. As a rule, males are larger than females and have larger tusks, but females can usually be identified by their pronounced foreheads.

Habitat


Elephants can live in nearly any habitat that has adequate quantities of food and water. Their ideal habitat consists of plentiful grass and browse.

Behavior


Elephants are generally gregarious and form small family groups consisting of an older matriarch and three or four offspring, along with their young. It was once thought that family groups were led by old bull elephants, but these males are most often solitary. The female family groups are often visited by mature males checking for females in estrus. Several interrelated family groups may inhabit an area and know each other well. When they meet at watering holes and feeding places, they greet each other affectionately.

Females mature at about 11 years and stay in the group, while the males, which mature between 12 and 15, are usually expelled from the maternal herd. Even though these young males are sexually mature, they do not breed until they are in their mid- or late 20s (or even older) and have moved up in the social hierarchy. Mature male elephants in peak condition experience an annual period of heightened sexual and aggressive activity called musth. During this period, which may last a week or even up to three to four months, the male produces secretions from swollen temporal glands, continuously dribbles a trail of strong-smelling urine and makes frequent mating calls. Females are attracted to these males and prefer to mate with them rather than with males not in musth.

Smell is the most highly developed sense, but sound deep growling or rumbling noises is the principle means of communication. Some researchers think that each individual has its signature growl by which it can be distinguished. Sometimes elephants communicate with an ear-splitting blast when in danger or alarmed, causing others to form a protective circle around the younger members of the family group. Elephants make low-frequency calls, many of which, though loud, are too low for humans to hear. These sounds allow elephants to communicate with one another at distances of five or six miles.

Diet


An elephant's day is spent eating (about 16 hours), drinking, bathing, dusting, wallowing, playing and resting (about three to five hours). As an elephant only digests some 40 percent of what it eats, it needs tremendous amounts of vegetation (approximately 5 percent of its body weight per day) and about 30 to 50 gallons of water. A young elephant must learn how to draw water up into its trunk and then pour it into its mouth. Elephants eat an extremely varied vegetarian diet, including grass, leaves, twigs, bark, fruit and seed pods. The fibrous content of their food and the great quantities consumed makes for large volumes of dung.

Caring for the Young


Usually only one calf is born to a pregnant female. An orphaned calf will usually be adopted by one of the family's lactating females or suckled by various females. Elephants are very attentive mothers, and because most elephant behavior has to be learned, they keep their offspring with them for many years. Tusks erupt at 16 months but do not show externally until 30 months. The calf suckles with its mouth (the trunk is held over its head); when its tusks are 5 or 6 inches long, they begin to disturb the mother and she weans it. Once weaned usually at age 4 or 5, the calf still remains in the maternal group.

Predators


Elephants once were common throughout Africa, even in northern Africa as late as Roman times. They have since disappeared from that area due to overhunting and the spread of the desert. Even though they are remarkably adaptable creatures, living in habitats ranging from lush rain forest to semidesert, there has been much speculation about their future. Surviving populations are pressured by poachers who slaughter elephants for their tusks and by rapidly increasing human settlements, which restrict elephants' movements and reduce the size of their habitat. Today it would be difficult for elephants to survive for long periods of time outside protected parks and reserves. But confining them also causes problems without access any longer to other areas, they may harm their own habitat by overfeeding and overuse. Sometimes they go out of protected areas and raid nearby farms.

Intersting Facts about African Elephants


  • The elephant is distinguished by its high level of intelligence, interesting behavior, methods of communication and complex social structure.
  • Elephants seem to be fascinated with the tusks and bones of dead elephants, fondling and examining them. The myth that they carry them to secret "elephant burial grounds," however, has no factual base.
  • Elephants are very social, frequently touching and caressing one another and entwining their trunks.
  • Elephants demonstrate concern for members of their families they take care of weak or injured members and appear to grieve over a dead companion.
List Of Animals
Aardvarks
African Clawed Frog
African Elephants
African Grey Parrots
African Wild Dog
Africanized Bees
Albatross
Amazon River Dolphin
Anacondas
Anadromous Fish
Anadromous Fishes Chinook Salmon
Anadromous Fishes Coho Salmon
Anadromous Fishes Steelhead
Andean Condors
Anemone Crab
Anemone Shrimp
Angel Shark
Angelfish Breeding
Angelfish
Annelids Earthworms
Annelids Leeches
Annelids
Antelopes
Antlions
Ants
Apes
Arachnids
Arctic Terns
Armadillos
Arowana
Arrow Crab
Arthropods
Asian Barbets
Asian Elephants
Asiatic Black Bear
Atlantic White Sided Dolphins
Australian Brush Turkey
Australian Fur Seal
Avocets
Axolotls
Babirusa
Baboons
Badgers
Bald Eagles
Baleen Whales
Ball Pythons
Banded Coral Shrimp
Bandicoots
Barn Owls
Basilisks
Basking Shark
Bass
Bats
Bearded Dragons
Bears
Beavers
Bed Bugs
Beluga Whales
Bengal Tigers
Betta Splendens
Betta Splendens
Bilbies
Bird Eating Spiders
Bird Eating Spiders
Black Howler Monkeys
Black Bear
Black Dogfish Shark
Black Howler Monkeys
Black backed Three toed Woodpecker
Blood Red Fire Shrimp
Blue Crabs
Blue Shark
Blue Whale
Bluebirds
Boa Constrictor
Boa Constrictor
Bobcats
Bogong Moth
Bongo
Bonobos
Boobies
Bottlenose Dolphins
Bottlenose Whales
Bowhead Whales
Brine Shrimp
Brine Shrimp
Broad Winged Hawks
Broad Winged Hawks
Brown Pelican
Brown Bear
Brown Pelican
Brydes Whales
Buffalo
Bull Shark
Bull Shark
Burrowing Owls
Burrowing Owls
Button Quail
Button Quail
Caenorhabditis elegans
California Condors
California Quail
California Red Legged Frog
California Sea Lion
California Condors
California Quail
California Red Legged Frog
California Sea Lion
Camel Spiders
Camel Spiders
Camels
Canada Goose
Canada Goose
Canaries
Cane Toad
Cane Toad
Capuchin Monkeys
Capuchin Monkeys
Capybaras
Caribou
Carpenter Bees
Carpenter Bees
Cassowary
Catfish
Centipedes
Cephalopods
Chatham Island Taiko
Cheetahs
Chickens
Chiggers
Chimpanzees
Chinchillas
Chinese Mitten Crab
Chipmunks
Cicadas
Cichlid
Clownfish
Cnidarians
Cobras
Cockatiels
Cockroaches
Coelacanth
Common Dolphin
Common Loons
Cookie Cutter Shark
Coopers Hawks
Copepods
Copperheads
Cougars
Cow
Cowbirds
Coyotes
Crab
Crane Fly
Crane
Crayfish
Crickets and Grasshoppers
Crocodiles and Alligators
Crustaceans
Cuscus
Daddy Long Legs Spiders
Dama Gazelle
Deer
Degu
Desert Pupfish
Desert Tortoise
Devils Hole Pupfish
Dik Diks
Dingoes
Discus
Dodo
Donkey
Downy Woodpecker
Dusky Shark
Eagles
Earthworms
Eastern Cougar
Eastern Mole
Echidna
Egrets
Finback Whales
Giant Panda
Golden Eagles
Great White Shark
Hairy Woodpecker
Harlequin Shrimp
Harpy Eagles
Humpback Whales
Minke Whale
North Atlantic Right Whale
Northern Flicker
Northern Three toed Woodpecker
Oceanic Whitetip Shark
Orca Killer Whale
Palm Cockatoos
Pileated Woodpecker
Polar Bear
Porbeagle Shark
Portuguese Shark
Purple Shore Crab
Red Bellied Woodpecker
Red headed Woodpecker
Rough Sagre Shark
Sand Tiger Shark
Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
Sei Whale
Sharks
Sharpnose Shark
Shortfin Mako Shark
Slipper Lobster
Sloth Bear
Smooth Dogfish Shark
Smooth Hammerhead Shark
Spectacled Bear
Spiny Dogfish Shark
Spiny Lobster
Starfish
Sun Bear
Thresher Shark
Tiger Shark
Wallabies
Walruses
Wasps
Water Dragons
Waterbucks
Weasels
Western Yellow billed Cuckoo
Whale Shark
Whales
White Beaked Dolphins
White Pelican
Whitetip Reef Shark
Whooping Cranes
Widow Spiders
Wild Canids
Wild Cats
Wild and Feral Horses
Wildebeest
Wildlife
Wobbegong Shark
Wolf Spiders
Wolverines
Wolves
Wombats
Wood Storks
Woodpeckers
Worms
Yaks
Yellow Bellied Marmot
Yellow bellied Sapsucker
Zebra Finches
Zebrafish
Zebras
camels adaptations
camels australia
camels biology
camels information
camels life
camels people
camels uses
lis
template



© 2003-2004 - animalport.com - All Rights Reserved