To most people, an elephant is an elephant—a big, grey, wrinkly animal with a long trunk. But there are actually two species of elephant: One lives in Africa and the second in Asia. Here's how you can tell them apart.
The largest land mammal, the African elephant weighs between 4 and 7 tons and stands up to 11 feet tall. There are two subspecies: the savannah, or bush, elephant and the forest elephant.
- Two appendages or "fingers" at tip of trunk.
- Both males and females have tusks.
- Flat forehead.
- Shoulders: Highest part of the body.
- Sloped back.
- Large ears that cover its shoulders.
- The front feet have four or five toes each and the hind feet have three.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, displays the largest known African elephant. It stands a towering 14 feet tall.
Smaller than its African cousin, the Asian elephant weighs between 3 and 6 tons and is around 10 feet tall. There are four subspecies: Indian, Sri Lankan, Sumatran, and Borneo.
- One appendage or "finger" at tip of trunk.
- Females don't have tusks. Only males do.
- Head: Highest part of body.
- Rounded forehead with two humps on the top of its head.
- Rounded back.
- Small ears that don't reach over its shoulders.
- The front feet have five toes each and the hind feet have four.
Asian elephants were the first species of elephant to be tamed. For thousands of years, people have trained them to plow fields, haul cargo, and carry passengers.