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Evolutionary Timeline: Elephant
Transcript of Evolutionary Timeline: Elephant
This species were somewhat pig-like. The difference from modern elephant would be that they only stand about 70 cm high and about 3 m long. This species is believed to have lived in swamps and rivers. This is also believed to be a common ancestor of hippos, because of the ecological niche location the two species share. The shape of the skull from the Moeritherium eludes to the species not having an elephant-like trunk, has a broad upper lip which would be for the aquatic vegetation. The teeth from the skull form small tusks.
The most important feature that was changed from the Moeirthium would be the small tusks that were on the upper and lower jaw.The upper pairs were vertical, and the lower pairs projected outward horizontally. This was changed because the need to be able to have the shearing action to crop plants.
"Barytherium." Barytherium. Wikipedia, n.d. Web.
The appearance of the Numidotherium is a more slender body shape, but overall not much had changed. The environmental changes for this to change would be the slight change in the location, which would be more west from the Barytherium. The location is warmer, which the more slender body, the organism would have less surface area with the sun exposure.
Middle Miocene to Early Pleisocene
The Platybelodon species ranged over a few locations, Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. This species thrived during the Miocene Epoch era, but it didn't survive past the Miocene. The characteristics of this species were specialized to this time, which was the reason it didn't survive outside this time, as the same species. (It evolved into other species). The species was believed to have lived in swampy areas of grassy savannas, using it's teeth to shovel aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation. Also the teeth were used for stripping bark off of the trees, which is represented in the wear on the teeth. This is the reason for the larger mouth and teeth, which was the major adaptation of this species, and was due from the submersion more out of the water, whereas other past species were in mostly swamps, and had similar features to that of the modern hippo more than the on-land modern elephant. These adaptations were need for this version of the timeline of elephants, and showed a movement of locations, which sparked the changes in appearance.
This is an drawing of the Platybelodon, which helps to represent the large mouth openings and teeth.
This is a skull of the Platybelodon
Palaeomastodon (the ancestor of the Mastodon)
4.8 mya-4,500 years ago
This species was widespread in North America during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs. Some were found in parts of Eurasia and Beringa, and in South America. The Gomphothere evolved by the tooth structures. The chewing surfaces of the molar teeth, which were helpful to chewing. This type also had four tusks, which retracted facial and nasal bones, which suggest the early stages of the trunk development. The start of the growth of the trunk was sparked from the environmental need to be able to help act as an elongated shovel to help the lower jaw to get the food for chewing with the more changes. The early Gomphothere had relatively short tusks, but a little bit elongated jaw, but not quite as much as the Platybeldon, which was the changes to the Gomphothere. The adaptations were needed because the locations changed from the widespread in africa and euope, to more grassland areas, making more sense for the Gomphothere to develop a trunk for shoveling the grounds.
This species lived in the late Pliocene, early Pleistocene.The animal was a 8 foot animal, which was a height change from earlier genus'. The change was most likely to accomodate for the new long tusks (4m) that the Anancuz had. This was the major difference, which happened because of the need for defense. The tusks were weapons. The molars were also more like cusps, that were helpful for the environmental change of needing to be able to eat tubers and roots in the forest floor. The trunk ended up developing more in this genus, which was due from the need to be able to scoop up food from the forest floor, since this was the main locations of the Anacus. This was the only genus that had many species, whereas the others had one or two.
The difference of this genus would be the spiral shaped tusks. The skeletons of this suggest that the pieces were recovered with the association with man. Pieces of hide and muscle tissue were recovered, and were shown to be somewhat hunted by man. The human interaction was the highlight of this genus, since not much changed physically.
The mammoth ranges from north America, Eurasia, and South America. The Mammoth genus are close members of the elephants but also had some dominant features. They were often equipped with long curved tusks and also were covered with long hair. These differences were because of the times and locations that the genus lived in. The ice age hold the woolly mammoth. The woolly mammoth is the species of the genus that was the most prominent of all, since it was the most analyzed by scientists. The long hair was mainly because of the need for warmth. Also, the long curved tusks were needed because they are an adaptation for the need of protection. The curved tusks were more effective as a defense weapon.
as old as 35 mya
These fossils in Africa were related to the Moeritherium, but were ancestors of the Mastodon. These had tusks, on both the upper and lower jaws. There was also a trunk, which was 1 to 2 meters long. The Palaeomastodon were ancestors of the Mastodon because they are descendents with some of the same features.
These were found mostly on lower sea levels and had tusks that were curved upward with a trunk. There have been remains found in North America and Europe. The need for the trunk and the tusks were for protection and for gathering food.
The Deinotherium had a significant weight and height. Males were around 4.meters tall and some up to 5 meters. The weight of some were up to 5 to 10 tons. These had tusks that were directed downward and a small trunk. The reasoning for needing the tusks would be to grind up the food. The tusks were present for that function, which were changed function wise later on in the timeline. The environmental factors would be what they were eating in the environments. They tended to be on coasts in Europe, causing food to be tougher from the environment.
Were found in swampy areas
Molars for Shearing action for cropping plant
These three have in common...
These have in common...
Larger in weight and height
These have in common...
Tusks used for food
Location to grasslands
These have in common...
Tusks used for weapons
Some scientists believe that the current poachers, that are making the elephants endangered, are also changing future generations. The ivory tusks being taken from the elephants from poachers to sell, are causing the elephants to start adapting to not having the tusks. These adaptations could turn future generations into not many having tusks. The pattern of the differences in tusk went from non-existent, to needs for eating, to needs of weaponry, to the combination of both, and finally to the adaptation from human interaction with the animal.
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"Elephant Science & Nature - Evolution." Elephant Science & Nature - Evolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.
"Elephant the Scientific Classification." Sea World. Sea World, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.
"Elephants' Switch to Grass Shaped Tooth Evolution, Eventually." Elephants' Switch to Grass Shaped Tooth Evolution, Eventually. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.
"The Mammutidae." The Mammutidae. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.
"Moeritherium | Fossil Mammal." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2015.
Wirz, Alicia. "Loxodonta Africana." (African Elephant). Red List: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.
Numidotherium. Digital image. Lagloirederama. N.p., n.d. Web.
Skeleton and body sketch
mastodon skeleton, curved tusks
has an appearance of a bigger mouth
The evolution of elephants has dated back to 4.6 mya, and will continue to adapt to the environment surrounding them, and elephants are also becoming extinct, so it will be tougher to see the slight changes throughout our future. The key changes over time elephants have experienced are the tusks, size, and the trunks. All have adapted because of the environment. The current elephants compared to the past common ancestor, the Moeritherium, the current elephants have tusks, are much larger, have trunks, and live in more grassland environments. The future could consist of the elephants becoming more of grassland eaters, and the sizes and shapes of teeth could change. The evolution of elephants will continue to undergo changes, as the past has due from the environment.
An overall timeline that represents the relationships between the different evolution of the ancestors of elephants.
The Evolution of the Loxodonta and Elephas: Elephants of Today
To scale by relativity of timing with each fossil
= sectioning of times
4,300 ya- 2015
There are two sub-species of the Loxondonta, the
Loxodonta cyclotis. African elephants are larger than the Elephas. An average of 12 ft. tall and to 15,000 lbs. These teeth have adapted to the needs of these elephants, which is tough teeth for eating grass. Starvation is a leading cause of death, because the older these elephants get, the less teeth they have. Their tusks are considered teeth, and can get from 5 to 8 feet long.
The Elephas has one living species,
Elephas maximus. This surviving species has smaller tusks, and smaller teeth, but the texture helps to be able to crop leaves. This species is smaller than the Loxodonta. The environmental factor that played a role was the habitat is moisture, and has bigger plants. They tend to be a bigger species in Asia, making it not a necessity to have super large tusks.
1. Many Elephants have wrinkles to trap in moisture to keep cool, over time they have gained more wrinkles to trap more moisture. (Because elephants do not have sweat glands.) Early proboscideans had a smaller body structure. Overtime they began to increase in size to scare away predators. Another adaption is elephants have short necks, making it hard to get food and water to their mouths. therefore over time long trunks evolved so they were able to get food and water to their mouths and could reach high up leafs and branches. The trunks were extremely important for the survival of the elephant from past generations. This was a leading cause that past ancestors without the trunks didn't end up surviving. One last example of the major adaptations would be the tusks/teeth. These changed over time because of different needs from the environment. For example, earlier genus didn't need the protection that the tusks provided, whereas the changes in environment, the more recent genus needed them. This is why we see the tusks in the Loxodonta and the Elephas. The teeth changed because of the needs to chew up food. The food evolved differently, in more swampy areas, roots are mostly eaten which means teeth that are able to grind up the roots. Grassland elephants, which are similar to the Loxodonta and Elephas,need the teeth to be able to chew up the grasses. These major adaptations are important because the evolution of the elephant has started from simple structures to the adaptation to new body parts that help the elephant survive.
3. The elephant will continue to evolve in the future because of the environmental changes. For example, most of the elephant population lives in grasslands, making the main food source to be grass. The grass needs a special type of tooth to be able to grind this down for digestion, making the teeth to grind down grasses to be a new adaptation for the elephant. Another change would be tusks. Currently, elephants are endangered because of poachers. The poachers are killing for the ivory tusks or just cutting off the ivory tusks making life hard for the elephant to survive. The elephants are also going to be surviving without the tusks making their future generations of offspring to also be born without them, making this an environmental adaptation that humans actually made happen. The evolutionary changes will cause the current line of Loxodonta and Elephas to become a new genus of their own because of the very different characteristics.
2. The evolution the elephant wasn't isolated because of the many changes that happened. The changes include small things like teeth,tusks, and different types of skin. The evolution of the elephant had an effect on other organisms because of the of different adaptations. For example, the elephant needed tusks for the protection against different organisms, making this change other organisms protection. For example, the elephant are plant eaters, therefore the leaves they once ate, became tougher overtime, trying to become better with defense against the elephant being able to eat them. This eventually caused the elephant to grow stronger teeth, and eventually move location to another type of plant being consumed. Another effect would be being able to get around and move to different areas of the globe was not adapted by their ancestor, the hippo, the hippo was not able to move places and therefore was bound to where it was born making adaptions to the swampy lands they crossed. The hippo and the elephant both have the common ancestor of the Morethirium. The elephant was also affected by other organisms. For example, they needed to protect themselves from other organisms like the leopard, which preys on elephant. The elephant grew tusks first for eating, but then adapted to becoming longer to be able to protect themselves from the felines of their home in Africa at the time. The location changes the elephant went through also affected the tusk sizes. The Elephas genus of elephant live in Asia, which doesn't have the predators that the Loxonta has, making the protection differences.
The Classification of Modern Elephants
This is the scientific classification of the modern elephant, with the subspecies included.