Q:

Where do elephants originally come from?

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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 does a baby elephant look like?

    A:

    Baby elephants, or elephant calves, are usually about 3 feet tall and weigh about 250 pounds when they are born. They are born with fuzzy black or red fur, which they eventually lose, on their heads and backs. Otherwise, they resemble adults of their species from the beginning.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference in size between a killer whale and an elephant?

    A:

    Mature killer whales are typically longer and lighter than elephants. On average, killer whales weigh up to 6 tons, or 12,000 pounds, while an average male elephant can weigh up to 7.5 tons, or 15,000 pounds. Killer whales are 23-32 feet long, and elephants range in height from 8 to 13 feet.

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  • Q:

    Why are elephants so big?

    A:

    Elephants evolved to their current size over the course of tens of millions of years; this size adaptation is likely a survival mechanism because a full-sized, adult elephant faces very little threat from predators, though baby elephants are much more vulnerable to predation from big cats such as lions and wild dogs. There have been cases in which adult elephants have fallen victim to attack from big cats, but these cases are rare. The elephant is the largest known land animal, but scientists believe that this massive mammal evolved from a creature that is roughly the size of a small rodent.

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  • Q:

    How tall are elephants?

    A:

    According to National Geographic, African elephants are the largest animals on Earth and can reach as tall as 13 feet at the shoulder. They weigh as much as 14,000 pounds. Asian elephants are slightly smaller and feature rounder ears.

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