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Transcript of Elephant Evolution
15 Million Years Ago
15-4 million years ago
The gomphotherium elephants were spread out across North America, Africa and Eurasia about 15 million years ago. These elephants went extinct when the lakebeds and riverbeds where they gathered their up food went dry.
These elephants went extinct when the lakebeds and riverbeds where they dredged up food went dry because of their flat tusks and they couldn`t dig very far in the ground.
Amebelodon elephant's are in the same era as Gomphotherium and Platybelodon. Amebelodon elephant's have shovel tusks so they also went extinct because the lakebeds and riverbeds where they dredged up food went dry.
The deinotherium represented a side branch in the elephant evolution, they survived well into the ice age because they were so big. The deinotherium elephants died off because of climate changes, their climate became too dry.
60 million years ago
The phosphatherium was referenced as a dog-sized herbivore. These elephants looked and behaved more like a pygmy hippopotamus than an early elephant. They were very small and fed off of aquatic plants.
The barytherium represent a side branch of mammals combining elephant-like and hippo-like characteristics. They were quite small and evolved into bigger mammals as time went on throughout history.
Phiomia and Moeritherium
37 million years ago
They lived in swamps and woodlands. Moeritheriums dined on marine elements as Phiomias dined on terrestrial.
37-30 million years ago
15-5 million years ago
15-5 million years ago
7-6 million years ago
One of the most important elephant ancestors identified. These elephants have shown traces of herding behavior in very dry areas, which shows that dry and dusty areas were a home to these mammals.
5 million years ago
Primelephas is known for being the latest common ancestor of both modern African and Eurasian elephants. Like gomphotherium, primelephas dug for their food, Gomphotherium lived in swamps so they had soft ground. Primelephas dug in hard ground which is where the evolution came.
Cuvieronius were one of the few to live in South Africa. Cuvieronius is also famous for being one of the few prehistoric elephants. These mammals were adapted for life in high, mountainous regions, and may have been hunted to extinction.
5 million years ago
3 million years ago
The wooly mammoth was known for its appearance, although they were huge, they were herbivores. Wooly mammoths usually just grazed on grass. These mammoths became extinct because they were hunt down.
1.5 million years ago
Apart from its long straight tusks and fairly short legs anancus looked like a modern elephant more than any other prehistoric elephant. Unlike the others, anancus lived in the jungle.These mammals died out when forest gave away to grass land.
3 million years ago
Stegomastodon was one of the few elephants to have prospered in South America, where it survived until historical times. Stegomastodon lived throughout New Mexico, but went extinct early in the Ice Age because all their food and shelter was freezing over.
3-2 million years ago
Like Gomphotherium, Tetralophodon enjoyed an unusually wide distribution, fossils of various species have been found as far afield as North and South America, Africa and Eurasia. The majority of this species died off during the ice age because of the climate change.
2 million - 10 000 years ago
Dwarf Elephants that lived on various Mediterranean islands during the ice age were made up of stunted populations of Mammuthus, Elephas, and Stegodon. It hasn't yet been proved that the extinction of these 500-pound elephants had anything to do with early human settlement of the Mediterranean.
They are generally reported as having disappeared from North America as part of a mass extinction of most of the ice age, which was a result of rapid climate change in North America.
2 million years ago
1 million years ago
The Straight-Tusked Elephant that spawned the Dwarf Elephants. These elephants were eventually out-competed in its increasingly frigid ecosystem by the well-insulated Woolly Mammoth.
The evolution of this marvelous mammal, began over 50 million years ago.
Ancient ancestors looked more like pigs than elephants. Short legs, long body, and a stubby flexible nose, served this animal well in enough in the marshy region they called home.
Over the next 10-20 million years generation after generation increased in size, naturally selected for success in a changing environment.
As they grew taller, the animals lower jaw elongated below the upper, and allowed them to continue to feed on the ground. Their snouts, began to take a shape of a trunk and covered the lower jaw. Elephants head, weighted with heavier trunks, needed the support with shorter, stiffer necks, but long lower jaws proved more cumbersome than a multi-task-ullar tubular limb.
Trunks were naturally selected over droopy jaws, and allowed the tall animals to feed, drink, bathe, and lift heavy objects. Nostrils shifted to the tip of the trunk. Now elephants had built in snorkels and could breathe while submerged in water. Approaching predators, could be sniffed out.
Today, two species of elephants roam territories in Asia and Africa. The easiest way to tell the difference between them is to look at their ears. Asian elephants have smaller ears than African elephants. Natural selection makes each the right size. Elephant ears are actually giant cooling systems. As the elephants heat up, they are able to open more and more blood vessels in their ears. all 450 litres in an elephants blood, can be run through an elephants ears in 20 minutes. Flapping their ears, cools the blood, before it returns to the body.
Due to migrations from one area, caused by adverse conditions created there, to other areas with more suitable but different conditions made the ancestors evolve over this long period of time to what we now recognize as the modern day elephant.
Climate change endangers elephants. (n.d.). Phys.or. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http:/http://phys.org/news/2013-01-climate-endangers-elephants.html
The Amazing world of Elephants. (n.d.). Wildlywise. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http:/http://www.wildlywise.com/index.htm