Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus)

Elephas is a genus of elephant, one of the surviving as last type of Asian elephant. Some extinct representatives, such as the European Forest Elephant and derived types are guided in part as a separate genus Palaeoloxodon. In the meantime, these forms were incorporated into the genus Elephas, but this is again called into question.


The genus Elephas is one of the youngest in the very successful order of Proboscidea. It developed parallel to the purely African genus Loxodonta and the mammoth. Characteristic are the reduction of the lower tusks, which were still present in their ancestors as Primelephas in all three genera. In contrast to the mammoth here extend the upper, sometimes very long, relatively straight tusks. The development of hochkronigen and folded back teeth is considered as an adaptation to the main food source for grass. The skull is short and has a high forehead. Like other elephants Elephas species built rather short and long-legged. The size of the fossil species varied between dwarf forms that were no bigger than a meter, and some very large representatives as Elephas recki in Africa and the European Forest elephants in Europe - these types even surpassed the recent elephant.


According to current knowledge, the genus Elephas is the sister taxon of the mammoths. The two genera separated during the Pliocene in Africa from each other. Here in East Africa with Elephas ekorensis the oldest type some 4.5 million years ago detectable. More African representatives are Elephas Elephas recki and iolensis, then the line died out in the later Pleistocene.

In the middle Pliocene, the genus to Eurasia immigrated. The dwarf Elephas celebensis evolved alongside some side branches on the Asian Elephant Elephas hysudricus (Elephas maximus) and from a collateral line. Other Asian species Elephas Elephas hysudrindicus and platycephalus. Elephas namadicus, which spread from the Indian subcontinent to Japan, is very similar to a smaller European forest elephants is speculated that he might be derived from this.

In Europe and the Mediterranean in the warm periods of the European forest elephant (Elephas ( Palaeoloxodon ) antiquus ) was widespread. Several islands -dwelling dwarf elephants like the Sicilian (Elephas falconeri ), Cyprus (Elephas cypriotes ) or Maltese dwarf elephant ( Elephas melitensis ) being regarded as isolated and by the limited living space " verzwergte " descendants of the forest elephant. Some of these extinctions happened in the last 10,000 years, possibly due to human intervention. This group is partially summarized in the subgenus Palaeoloxodon, a term that was introduced in 1924 by Hikoshichiro Matsumoto and reflects the then partially held view, these mammoths were more closely related to Loxodonta. But later studies disproved this view.