Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Traditionally, two species are recognised, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), although some evidence suggests that African bush elephants and African forest elephants are separate species (L. africana and L. cyclotis respectively). Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. They are the only surviving proboscideans; extinct species include mammoths and mastodons. The largest living terrestrial animals, male African elephants can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft) and weigh 7,000 kg (15,000 lb). These animals have several distinctive features, including a long proboscis or trunk used for many purposes, particularly for grasping objects. Their incisors grow into tusks, which serve as tools for moving objects and digging and as weapons for fighting. The elephant’s large ear flaps help to control the temperature of its body. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.
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