(order Proboscidea, suborder Gomphotherioidea)
A family than comprises the ancestral and modern elephants. They can be traced back to the Miocene (Stegolophodon) and are distinct from the superficially similar mastodons (Mammutidea). In living species the incisors grow to tusks in the upper jaw only; other incisors and canines are absent. Three milk premolars and three molars are present. Only one tooth in each half-jaw is used at a time; it is shed when worn and replaced by the tooth behind it, which moves forward. The skull is short, the nasal aperture high in the face, the proboscis long and muscular, with nostrils at its end. The limbs end in short hoofs; the gait is digitigrade. The family is distributed throughout Africa south of the Sahara, and southern Asia. The family includes the extinct Mammuthus (mammoth) and three surviving species: Elephas maximus (Asian elephant), Loxodonta africana (African elephant), and Loxodonta cyclotis (African forest elephant).
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.