Common Name: Asian Elephant
Scientific Name: Elephas maximus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Proboscidea
Family: Elephantidae
Genius: Elephas
Species: E. maximus

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I researched the Asian Elephant which is one of the two types of elephants on earth today. Long ago there were over 300 different species of elephant. There are quite a few physical differences between the two types of elephants that are alive. For instance, the Asian Elephant has two lumps on the tops of their heads and a single lump on their back. African Elephants have a smooth head as well as a dip in their back. The ears on both are quite different as well. The Asian has much smaller ears that do not cover their shoulder like the African species does. Their legs are generally smaller as well, Making Asian Elephants the shorter of the two. There is a pad of tissue under their heel which allows them to walk on their toes and carry their weight. They have five toes in the front and four in the back. Their weight can average out to about 10,000 lbs. Their height is about ten feet tall. The elephant’s color is a lighter grey than of the African, which is a darker grey.

An elephant’s habitat is usually in a grassland, dry savannah or woodlands in Asia or Africa. All elephants are herbivores which mean that they only eat plants. Every year more elephants are killed by poachers for their tusks. Elephants also help provide water not only for themselves but for the animals that live around them. This is done by placing their foot firmly on the ground and putting all of their weight on that foot and water will start to flow out of this. This can only be done in a dried up riverbed where water can be forced out of the ground by such weight.

With the elephant having such a long trunk as a nose they can reach as high as a giraffe. The number of teeth the elephant has dictates how long they will live. Their molars grow in each time the old ones wear down from chewing course food. The elephant can only produce six sets of molars in a lifetime. Once the sixth set of teeth gets dull it dies of starvation.

All elephants communicate by touch, sound, and scent. For example, when elephants blow their trunks they try to tell other elephants that there is a danger or help is needed. Other elephants hear this sound and know how to respond to it. The mothers stay close to their young in herds while the males tend to go out ahead of them. Elephants also touch trunks when they are happy or in love. The male elephants give off a scent when they are ready to mate. The woman can smell it from a two-mile radius. Although it may seem like elephants eat through their trunk, they don’t. They use the trunk to transfer the food to the mouth. The mouth is located under the trunk. Even when drinking water, they suck it into their trunk and squirt it into their mouths. They also squirt water on their back to keep their skin moist.

Author: Ashlee O.
Published: April 2006

Photo Credit: Mariana Ruiz Villarreal, Sept. 2006