African Elephants are, surprisingly, one of the most adapted animals you can find. In fact, elephants can resist and endure long dry periods and survive in environments (as the African savannah) that are full of dangerous predators.

Some of the most impressive adaptation features in elephants are:

– The long trunk that acts as nose. This trump could have been developed to grab higher leaves, to drink water eassily or to smell better. This trumk is very sensitive. The first elephants had this trunk. Probably it was developed by mutation from a different specie of mastodons, as I don’t think variation can produce such a huge change. Then, that mutation could have helped that animal to reach food or drink water easily, and therefore eventually to have more descendants.

– The thick tought skin that African elephants have is useful to isolate the animal from extreame climate. Paquiderms usually have this type of skin. The characteristic could have been developed by variation and natural selection (the survival of the mammals with the thicker skin would eventually led to a full specie of paquiderms) or by mutation.

– The big ears the elephants have are used to lose heat from their bodies. That’s why they are so big and thin. This feature is specific from the African elephants, and I also think it could be mainly a good mutation.

– The long tusks that elephants have can be used to disuade predators. Naturally this tusks would be strange, as they are not used to eat. I also think this could have been generated by a sudden mutation and then helped the elephant to dig for roots or to fight.

It can be interesting to think how mammoths, which clearly resemble to elephants, were themselves adapted to their cold environment. However, elephants aren’t evolved from mammoths.

Cheers.

(Same of the sources below)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant

http://www.principia.edu/mammoth/mammothfacts.htm

http://www.swbg-animals.org/animal-info/info-books/elephants/adaptations.htm

http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-of-Elephants&id=587098

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