Ivory is one of the most distinctive features of giant mammals, their size and torso give these animals a majestic appearance. However, some large statues have no tusks, and a large proportion of these large statues are mothers. Why do some mother statues have no ivory? This article answers them one by one.
What is ivory?
Ivory is the ever-growing incisor. Typically, an adult elephant’s teeth consist of 12 premolars, 12 molars, and two tusks. These double teeth consist of four layers, the outermost being enamel. Below the enamel layer is dentin, cementum, and then pulp. Dental pulp is a combination of blood vessels and nerve endings. The density of dentin in ivory is why ivory is more sought after than other animal ivory.
The tusks of baby elephants usually grow to two inches and fall off after about a year. When elephants reach the age of two, they grow permanent tusks. Because the tusks are constantly growing, they can be used to determine the age of an adult elephant.
What is the use of ivory?
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, tusks can grow to over 10 feet, with the largest tusks ever recorded measuring around 11 feet 5 inches. The large teeth looked dangerous, suggesting they were used for defense. However, ivory has other uses for elephants, such as barking trees during the dry season and digging underground for salt, minerals and water.
Elephants use their tusks like shovels to scoop up soil for digging. These burrows are often beneficial to other animals, weaker than these giant mammals, and not capable of digging such burrows themselves.
Another use of ivory was to protect the torso. The elephant trunk is boneless and mainly composed of muscle. While elephants can lift incredible weights with their trunks, their long trunks are prone to injury. So elephants protect their trunks with their tusks and sometimes support them with their stronger teeth.
Male elephants usually use their tusks for defense. While herds of elephants can easily defend against most predatory threats by hacking, during periods of high testosterone, male elephants often use their tusks to fight other males. Young males with smaller tusks avoid fights with older elephants.
Does the female statue have ivory?
There are two types of elephants, African elephants and Asian elephants. Both sexes of African elephants have tusks. However, a recent study shows that many females are born without teeth. Tuskless males are extremely rare, although a large proportion of tuskless females are present.
Male Asiatic elephants have tusks, while female Asian elephants do not. However, about 50 percent of the female population develops smaller incisors, which sometimes protrude below the upper lip like tusks.
Why do some mother statues have ivory?
According to the BBC, two dental genes are responsible for the formation of elephant tusks, the AMELX and MEP1a genes. The AMELX gene produces enamel and cementum, two materials found in elephant teeth and tusks.
MEP1a, on the other hand, is critical for the formation of dentin, the core mineral in ivory. The study was conducted on African elephants, which grow tusks of both sexes. It was argued at the time that the presence of these two genes in both male and female elephants ensured tusk growth.
Why do some female elephants have no tusks?
For years, scientists have tried to solve the mystery of the lack of tusks in female elephants. It was originally thought to be rare, especially in African elephants, much like albinism. However, tusked bull statues have become a minority in modern times. There are two main reasons to blame for this population density shift; female genetics and heavy poaching.
1. Female Genetics
Mother statues without tusks have always existed. However, they are rare, accounting for about 2% to 5% of the herd. According to the New York Times, the tooth gene is on the X chromosome, which is XX in females and XY in males. If these genes are missing, male elephants die. However, some female elephants can survive without these genes.
Some believe that the higher survival rate of female elephants without these genes is due to the higher survival rate of female elephants without tusks. These elephants can survive as equals, using their size and trunk.
2. Mass poaching
Elephants may have undergone genetic mutations due to heavy poaching, according to The Daily Telegraph. Observations of elephant population recovery in Mozambique showed a higher proportion of females born without tusks.
Scientists believe the new genetic mutation was caused by tuskless survivors of the 1977-1992 Mozambique war, who passed their genes on to their offspring. It has been observed that two-thirds of newborns are female and half have no teeth. Similar human influences are believed to have affected Asian elephants as well.
In addition, mass poaching of “tusks,” male elephants with large tusks, removes them from the breeding gene pool. Therefore, the strong and long tusk gene cannot be passed on to the next generation. In theory, if all the tusked elephants were poached, lucky tuskless males would be left to breed with females, increasing the number of tuskless offspring.
It could also be detrimental to the overall population of these large herbivores, as this genetic mutation could mean the end of the male elephant, affecting the population, since elephants are not asexual.
Little Tushes: What are Tushes?
About 50 percent of Asian elephant elephants have been reported to have buttocks, and some male elephants share the same feature. These extended upper incisors are similar in position to tusks, as they also protrude from below the upper lip of these elephants. However, tusks are made of a different material than tusks, lack dentin, and are more brittle.
The obvious difference between tusk and tusk is the length. While tusks can grow to over 10 feet, tusks can reach up to two inches. However, unlike tusks, tusks can regenerate when damaged.
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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