Unless you know what to look for, you probably don’t know the difference between African and Asian elephants. These two types of elephants belong to different genera with many different characteristics between them. Not only are they physically different from each other in many ways, but they live in different geographic locations and their habitats do not overlap!
In this article, we’ll detail all these differences so you can understand how to tell the difference between African and Asian elephants. Let’s get started and learn more about these gentle giants!
Comparing African Elephants vs Asian Elephants
|african elephant||Asian elephant|
|belongs to||Cytodon||like class|
|size and weight||10-12 feet tall; 8,000-12,000 lbs||7-10 feet tall; 6,000-11,000 lbs|
|head and teeth||round head; large ivory||Two humps on the head; small tusks|
|ears and torso||Large billowing ears; ring-shaped trunk with two lips||small fold ears; hard trunk with an upper lip|
|Place||Africa; hot and dry climate||Asia; humid rainforest|
Key Differences Between African Elephants and Asian Elephants
There are a number of key differences that distinguish African elephants from Asian elephants. Not only do they live in completely different parts of the world, but they also live in different habitats. African elephants are much larger in size and weight compared to Asian elephants. Compared to African elephants, Asian elephants have smaller ears and a more distinctive head shape.
But that’s not where their differences end. Now let’s take a look at all their unique features!
African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: Location and Genus
A clear difference between African and Asian elephants has to do with their geographic location and genus.These two elephants are completely different, African elephants belong to Cytodon genus and Asian elephants belong to like class belongs to.
These two creatures also exist in completely different parts of the world, meaning they would never meet in real life unless they were in a zoo. African images only exist in Africa, and Asian images only exist in Asia. These two distinct habitats also greatly affect their overall appearance and diet, as African elephants live in hot, dry savannas, while Asian elephants prefer moist rainforests.
African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: Size and Weight
Another difference between African and Asian elephants is their size and weight. While both creatures are very large and impressive up close, African elephants far outnumber Asian elephants. This also means that African elephants are much taller than Asian elephants.
For example, African elephants are 10-12 feet tall and weigh 8,000-12,000 pounds, while Asian elephants are 7-10 feet tall and weigh 6,000-11,000 pounds. While neither animal is small in any way, the African elephant is much larger in every way compared to the Asian elephant.
African Elephants vs Asian Elephants: Heads and Tusks
When you look at African and Asian elephants side by side, you can really tell the difference in their head shapes and tasks. In most cases, African elephants have much larger tusks compared to Asian elephants. While both male and female elephants can have tusks, that doesn’t guarantee that either species will have tusks. But you can expect African elephants to accomplish more impressive tasks than Asian ivory.
Another obvious difference between the two creatures is the shape of their heads. When you compare the head of an African elephant to that of an Asian elephant, the shape of their skulls is very different. The heads of African elephants are completely round and large, while the heads of Asian elephants form two hills or humps on top with a line in the center of their faces. Check out all these photos in this article for comparison!
African Elephants vs Asian Elephants: Ears and Trunks
One of the easiest ways to tell African and Asian elephants apart is by looking at their ears and trunks. The ears of African elephants are very large compared to the ears of Asian elephants, and often appear wrinkled compared to the full ears of African elephants.
If you’re able to look closely, you’ll also notice that the African elephant’s nose is very different from that of an Asian elephant. African elephants have two distinct lips on their trunks for grasping, while Asian elephants have only one lip on top of their trunks for grasping.
African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: Body and Skin
The last difference between African elephants and Asian elephants is their bodies and skins. African hides are much more wrinkled and creased than Asian hides. You may also notice that Asian elephants have more spots on their skin than African elephants.
African elephants are wrinkled to retain water and prevent dehydration as they traverse the African savannah, according to a recent study. Asians don’t have the same concerns because they live in more tropical and humid climates.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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