Heritage Animal of India-'Elephant': Facts at a Glance

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Two species are traditionally recognised, the African elephant and the Asian elephants.
Created On: Mar 11, 2016 11:39 IST
Modified On: Mar 15, 2016 18:08 IST

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Two species are traditionally recognised, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Elephants are herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes. They prefer to stay near water. Elephants' large ear flaps help to control their body temperature.

Comparison between Asian and African elephants:


1. Elephants actually evolved from a mammal called an Eritherium azzouzorum abou 60 million years ago. It was about the size of a rabbit.
2. Elephants really do have excellent memory. They're able to pass information along to one another.
3. Elephants spend around 20 hours a day moving around in search of food or socialization.
4. They can't run, but they can speed walk about 25 mph.
5. They can drink up to 2 gallons of water at a time.
6. Elephants use a complex language and physical gestures to communicate with one another. For example, when they kneel in front of each other, it means an invitation to play.
7. Elephants eat more than 300 pound of food a day.
8. Their ears can span 4 feet wide and two feet high.
9. Elephants can live up to 70 years.
10. Elephant can’t jump.
11. The average weight for an elephant heart is about 27 to 46 pounds!
12. Elephants have a highly developed brain and the largest of all the land mammals. The brain is 3 or 4 times larger than that of humans although smaller as a proportion of body weight.
13. An elephant’s skin is an inch thick.
14. An elephant can reproduce at the age of 16, but rarely has more than four children throughout her lifetime. At birth, an elephant calf weighs about 230 lbs!
15. Elephants have the longest pregnancy among all the animals. A female elephant takes about 22 months from conception to give birth.
16. Elephants have preference for one tusk over the other, just like humans are either left or right-handed.
17. Tusks is called incisor teeth of an elephant. They are used for defense, digging for water, and lifting things.
18. Elephants have four molars, one on the top and one on the bottom on both sides of the mouth.  The weight of one molar is about five pounds and is the size of a brick.
19. The trunk of comprises of more than 40,000 muscles.
20. Elephants rises their trunks up in the air and from side to side to smell better.
21. The elephant’s trunk is able to estimate the size, shape and temperature of an object. An elephant uses its trunk to lift food and suck up water then pour it into its mouth.
22. Elephants are good swimmers – they use their trunk to breathe like a snorkel in deep water.
23. Elephants can walk almost silently because their feet are very soft padded. This pad helps them to hold their weight.
24. Elephants use their feet to listen, they can pick up sub-sonic rumblings made by other elephants, through vibrations in the ground. Elephants can listen by putting trunks on the ground and carefully positioning their feet.
25. Elephants are very sensitive and caring animals. If a baby elephant complains, the entire family will look after him. Elephants express grief, compassion, self-awareness, altruism and play.
26. Elephants orginise greeting ceremonies when a friend that has been away for some time returns to the group.
27. Elephants have large, thin ears. Their ears are made up of a complex network of blood vessels which regulate an elephant’s temperature. Blood is circulated through their ears to cool them down in hot climates.
28. An elephant is capable of hearing sound waves well below our human hearing limitation.
29. Elephants are social creatures. They sometimes “hug” by wrapping their trunks together in displays of greeting and affection.
30. Elephants pay homage to the bones of their dead, gently touching the skulls and tusks with their trunks and feet.  When an elephant walks past a place that a loved one has died, he/she will stop dead still; a silent and empty pause that can last several minutes.

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