The African elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal. Its thickset body rests on stocky legs and it has aconcave back. Its large ears enable heat loss. Its upper lip and nose forms a trunk. The trunk acts as a fifth limb, a sound amplifier and an important method of touch. The African elephant's trunk ends intwo opposing lips, whereas the Asian elephant trunk ends in a single lip. African elephants are bigger than Asian elephants.
Elephants have four molars; each weighs about 5 kg (11 lb) and measuresabout 30 cm (12 in) long. As the front pair wears down and drops out in pieces, the back pair shifts forward, and two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth. Elephants replace their teeth sixtimes. At about 40 to 60 years of age, the elephant no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, a common cause of death.
Their tusks are teeth; the second set of incisors becomes the tusks.They are used for digging for roots and stripping the bark off trees for food, for fighting each other during mating season, and for defending themselves against predators. The tusks weigh from 23–45 kg(51–99 lb) and can be from 1.5–2.4 m (5–8 ft) long. Unlike Asian elephants, both male and female African elephants have tusks. They are curved forward and continue to grow throughout the elephant'slifetime. The enamel plates of the molars are fewer in number than in Asian elephants.
The Asian or Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genusElephas and distributed in Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Asian elephants are the largest living land animals in Asia.
Elephas maximus has been listed as endangered byIUCN as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. Asian elephants are rather long-lived, with a maximum recorded life span of 86...