New study shows that the African elephant is made of two different species
Jan 14, 2011
A new study has shed some light on the ancestry of the African elephant, Discovery.com reports. The results show that the African savannah elephant and the African forest elephant are actually two different species.
"Animals have an amazing capacity to change in morphology over short periods of time," said David Reich, a population geneticist at Harvard Medical School.
While this discovery is certainly startling, it may not be so surprising to some. The savannah elephant and the forest elephant are proportionately different from one another and also vary when it comes to their social habits.
The news source reports that the two different species share a common ancestor, but started to diverge more than two-and-a-half million to five million years ago.
African elephants are currently known to be the largest land animals roaming the earth. Female elephants usually give birth once every two to four years, and have a gestation period of up to 22 months.
The Smithsonian National zoo reports that there are currently 750,000 African elephants on the continent.