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Elefante | by Rodrigo Soldon Souza
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Elefante

Elefante é o termo genérico e popular pelo qual são denominados os membros da família Elephantidae, um grupo de mamíferos proboscídeos elefantídeos, de grande porte, do qual há três espécies no mundo atual, duas africanas (Loxodonta sp.) e uma asiática (Elephas sp.). Há ainda os mamutes (Mammuthus sp.), hoje extintos. Até recentemente, acreditava-se que havia apenas duas espécies vivas de elefantes, o elefante-africano e o elefante-asiático, uma espécie menor. Entretanto, estudos recentes de DNA sugerem que havia, na verdade, duas espécies de elefante-africano: Loxodonta africana, da savana, e Loxodonta cyclotis, que vive nas florestas. Os elefantes são os maiores animais terrestres da actualidade pesando até 12 toneladas e medindo em média quatro metros de altura. As suas características mais distintivas são as presas de marfim.

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Elephants are large land mammals in two genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta. Three species of elephant are living today: the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant and the Asian Elephant (also known as the Indian Elephant). All other species and genera of Elephantidae are extinct, some since the last ice age: dwarf forms of mammoths may have survived as late as 2,000 BC.[1] Elephants and other Elephantidae were once classified with other thick-skinned animals in a now invalid order, Pachydermata.

 

Elephants are the largest land animals now living.[2] The elephant's gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal. At birth it is common for an elephant calf to weigh 120 kilograms (260 lb). They typically live for 50 to 70 years, but the oldest recorded elephant lived for 82 years.[3] The largest elephant ever recorded was shot in Angola in 1956. This male weighed about 24,000 lb (11,000 kg),[4] with a shoulder height of 3.96 metres (13.0 ft), a metre (yard) taller than the average male African elephant.[5] The smallest elephants, about the size of a calf or a large pig, were a prehistoric species that lived on the island of Crete during the Pleistocene epoch.[6]

 

Elephants are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence, where they are thought to be on par with cetaceans[7] and hominids.[8] Aristotle once said the elephant was "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind".[9] The word "elephant" has its origins in the Greek ἐλέφας, meaning "ivory" or "elephant".[10]

 

According to observations so far, healthy adult elephants have no natural predators,[11] although lions may take calves or weak individuals.[12][13] They are, however, threatened by human intrusion and poaching.

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os elefantes o elefántidos (Elephantidae) son una familia de mamíferos placentarios del orden Proboscidea. Antiguamente se clasificaban, junto con otros animales de piel gruesa, en el orden, ahora inválido, de los paquidermos (Pachydermata). Existen hoy en día tres especies y diversas subespecies. Entre los géneros extintos destaca Mammuthus que incluía los mamuts.

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Taken on January 6, 2010