Q:

Where do elephants originally come from?

A:

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.

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 eats elephants?

    A:

    Tigers and lions occasionally eat elephants, though attacks are rare. Since the repercussions of a failed attack are fierce, the big cats tend to only prey on very weak and young elephants. Scavengers, such as hyenas, often feed on dead or dying elephants.

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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:

    What is the average weight of an elephant?

    A:

    The African elephant weighs between 5,000 and 14,000 pounds, according Africa-Wildlife-Detective.com, while the Asian elephant weighs between 4,500 and 11,000 pounds. At the shoulder, the African elephant is 8.2 to 13 feet tall, while the Asian elephant is 6.6 to 9.8 feet tall.

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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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