The two species of elephants are the Asian and the African elephants. There are distinctive differences between the two, which are highlighted below:
The African elephant is termed scientifically as Loxodonta africana and weighs between 4,000 and 7,000 kilograms. At shoulder height, the elephant can stand anywhere between 3 and 4 metres tall. Its skin has a more wrinkled appearance than that of the Asian elephant. It also has 21 pairs of ribs and its highest point is at the shoulder. The African elephant is easily recognised by its ears, which fan out in a distinctive shape over its shoulders and neck.
The shape of the African elephant’s back is concave and the shape of its belly runs diagonally downwards towards its hind legs. The shape of its head is flattened on top, not crumpled and shows no visible humps or dents. The profile of the African elephant’s molars are diamond shaped and the tusks are prevalent in both sexes, but larger in the males. The lower lip is short and round, the trunk more ringed and softer, and the trunk end has two fingers.
The Asian elephant weighs between 3,000 and 6,000kg and stands at a height of 2 – 3.5 metres. It has 20 pairs of ribs and has its highest point on the back, which is usually convex or straight. Its ears are much smaller than the African variety and the belly is either straight or sags slightly in the middle.
The head has a more crumpled appearance with a dent in the middle of the scull. The lower lip is long and tapered and the trunk has less rings and is harder, ending in one finger instead of two like African elephants. An interesting fact is that the two species cannot be interbred because of their vast genetic differences.