Comparison Of Elephants and their extinct relatives

Elephants are symbols of strength and power. Being the largest land mammal on our planet, they are the last living members of their order Probescideans. 2 recognised genus and 5 subspecies exist. Genus Loxodonta and Genus Elephas. They are important for our ecosystem as they are keystone species, which carve out a specific habitat for themselves which also provides for other organisms living in it. Well, the importance of elephants is way more than what I’ve mentioned but now is the time for the real topic, since we know how modern elephants look like I would like to take you down in prehistory to see just how fascinating their extinct relatives used to look like.

Picture Credit: The nature conservancy

We’ve seen infographic documentaries on the Wooly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and the American Mastodon( Mammut americanum), but I’ll be talking about some of their extinct relatives and how much evolution finally bought us the modern-day elephants we see today.

Picture Credit: Pinterest

The above picture gives us a clear understanding of the development of tusks and body structure showing how evolution has taken place through millions of years which has given rise to the modern elephants.

We’ll be scratching under the surface and we’ll be seeing some unique evolutionary traits and just how remarkable they look on some of the extinct relatives.


Picture Credit: paleopedia.tumblr

A quite remarkable-looking animal, these elephant relatives lived from the middle Miocene to the late Miocene epoch. They reached a shoulder height of about 8 to 10 feet and probably weighed around 10 metric tons.

Jaw and Tusk Structure

Picture Credit: Quora

By the look at the diagram, it is visible that they have 4 tusks. Upper tusk just like modern elephants and lower tusks which are usually narrowed, flat and elongated below the lower jaw. Their lower jaw is probably the most striking feature. The unique jaw structure got them the nickname shovel tusked using their tusks to dig for water , Amebelodon were versatile browsers( feeding on a variety of broad leaved plants rather than grass) in wet and dry conditions.


Picture Credit:

Another unique relative of the modern day elephants with a twist, deinotherium also called terrible beasts lived from the middle Miocene till the early Pleistocene. Adults of this species were found to be around 3.6–4.0 m (11.8–13.1 ft) tall and weighed 8.8–12 tonnes (8.7–11.8 long tons; 9.7–13.2 short tons).

Jaw and Tusk Structure

Picture Credit:

The most striking difference here is the tusks are curved downwards like canines of saber tooth tigers. The way they used their tusks is still an ongoing debate, while some say that they used their tusks to pull down branches or stripped barks from the trees, dug for underground tubers. Their teeth structure allowed them to feed on variety of food which was present at their disposal.


Picture Credit:

This amazing elephant relative lived from the late Miocene to the early Pliocene. Roughly 4 m (13.1 ft) in shoulder height and 11–12 tonnes (12.1–13.2 short tons) in weight, they had 4 tusks upper and lower tusks just like Amebelodon. They lived in subtropical regions and had diet similar to their counterparts.

Jaw Structure and Tusk Structure

Picture Credit: Wikipedia

Since only a portion of their lower jaw is present we can see deduce just what they used to eat. Teeth structure prominently shows it might have feasted on grass, roots and plants. Their tusks were generally used for something modern-day elephants would use them such as protecting themselves, digging holes etc.

African Bush Elephant

Picture Credit:

Now for the modern elephant, the African Bush Elephant are the largest of the 2 genus of elephants that are present today. On average, males are about 3.20 m (10.5 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh 6.0 t (6.6 short tons), while females are much smaller at about 2.60 m (8.53 ft) tall at the shoulder and 3.0 t (3.3 short tons) in weight.

Jaw and Tusk Structure

Picture Credit: Myminifactory

The jaw and structure of modern-day elephants is just quite simply amazing. Modern-day elephants have 2 tusks that are actually canine teeth which are elongated and protude beyond mouth. They are used for a variety of things such as digging holes, in males the larger and longer tusks are the more dominant ones. They have good memory and the matraich are the ones who guide the herd to watering spots and pasteurs where there’s good amount of food for the herd.

Elephants are the most amazing animals that are present on the planet, they are hands down important for the flora and fauna around them.

If you like what I write then please like and share, if you are an animal enthusiast then this is the page for you. It means a lot if the readers love what I wrote and learn from it and stay home stay safe and take it easy.👻

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Abhidyu Ajila

Abhidyu Ajila

A zoology student who talks animals, conservation, evolution and geography