Q:

Where do elephants originally come from?

A:

Quick Answer

The original ancestors of African and Asian elephants appeared in what is modern day east Africa 16 million years ago. The elephant's biological family split into the genera of mammuthus, loxodonta and elephas over a 2.4-million-year period that began 7.6 million years ago.

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Full Answer

The mammuthus genus contains the animals known as mammoths that are said to have populated North America, Europe, northern Asia and central Mexico up until 12,000 years ago. The loxodonta genus contains the modern African elephant species while the elephas genus refers to Asian elephants. The closest living genetic relatives to African and Asian elephants are the hyrax, sea cows and golden moles.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the size of an elephant's foot?

    A:

    An elephant's feet are 15 to 19 inches in length and width, with a circumference of more than 4 feet. Scientists can determine the height of an elephant by its footprint because the shoulder height of the male elephant is 5.8 times the length of its hind footprint (5.5 times the length of the hind footprint in females).

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  • Q:

    How do elephants sleep?

    A:

    Elephants take short naps standing up, but lie down when sleeping for more than a couple of hours. The average elephant sleeps for approximately four hours at a time, and spends at least half of that time lying down on its side.

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  • Q:

    Where are elephants found?

    A:

    Depending on the species, elephants are found naturally in Africa and Asia. African elephants are found in most parts of Africa, while Asian elephants are mostly found in the tropical forests in Asia, such as in India, Thailand and Indonesia.

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  • Q:

    How long do elephants live?

    A:

    The median lifespan of an elephant in the wild is 56 years for female African elephants and 42 years for female Asian elephants. Elephants can reach ages of over 70 years old. In captivity, elephants only live to be about 17 years old — one year short of adulthood.

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