Evolution of Elephants

What animal did elephants evolve from?


Elephants are very large mammals. On average some are 10 to 11 feet tall. They spend 16 to 18 hours a day either feeding or moving toward a source of food or water. Elephants have been around for a long time. In order for them to have survived they had to evolve.


Moeritherium - pig-hippo- like animals (about 37-35 million years ago,)
Deinotherium-had as short trunk and it had downward curving tusks attached to the lower jaw.
Gomphotherium - lived near water like swamps or lakes and had 4 tusks .
Stegodon - lived in parts of Asia, East and Central Africa and North America (11.6 mya)
Mastodons - looked very similar to elephants and to a lesser degree mammoths (10-11 mya)
Mammoth - equipped with long, curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair. Closest relative to elephants. (5mya)

Why do scientist believe they are the ancestors?

Scientist have tested tiny pieces of evidence from the genetic material, DNA. They have compared where they found the fossils of the ancestors to see if they are similar to the places that elephants live in now. They have looked at the fossils the way the tusks and the height changed. Looking at teeth can tell what the animal ate, so they see how similar it is.

Fossil Record

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Evolution 101