Species Hierarchy
Common name: ELEPHANT - INDIAN
Scentific name: ELEPHAS INDICUS

Species Info:

This lifeform is found in India. This lifeform is frequently domesticated. Parts of this lifeform are edible. This lifeform is scarce.

Indian elephant (Elephas indicus equals Elephas maximus) was originally found from India to Nepal, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, and southwestern China. This animal is frequently domesticated and is very useful as a beast of burden. Elephants are also used to remove trees and help build roads. Victims of the modern world's demand for space, very few elephants still live in the wild and are now found primarily on game farms.

The following table presents locations and estimated actual counts  of living wild elephants around 1999 based on a total of approximately 40,000 wild animals:

               Bhutan                105
               Burma               5,500
               Cambodia            1,500
               China                 300
               India              22,000
               Indonesia           3,500
               Laos                2,000
               Malaysia              900
               Borneo              1,200
               Nepal                  60
               Sri Lanka           2,700
               Thailand            1,700
               Vietnam               350

There are only two species of elephants living today. The African and the Indian elephant. (Some scientists now separate the African forest elephant from the African savanna elephant to make a total of three species.)

A recently extinct potential fourth species was of small size and lived on islands in the Mediterranean during early recorded history. Biologists are not sure if this was a dwarf form of the African elephant or perhaps a full species. Mammoths are a rather recently extinct group of animals that are closely related to the present-day elephants. Mammoths became extinct 4,000 years ago.

Elephants, Mastodons, and Mammoths (Order Proboscidea) once contained many species and families. Only two species exist today. The species in this order have hoofed feet and typically an elongated, flexible extension of the proboscis (nose) that is commonly called a trunk. Near the base of the trunk, there are also usually two bony  protruding structures called tusks.

Mammals (Class Mammalia), together with the birds, are among the youngest of the classes of animals. In species count, mammals number about fifty-one hundred, trailing reptiles (approximately fifty-five hundred), fish (approximately eighteen thousand), and birds (approximately eighty-six hundred).

There are three sub-types of mammals:

   monotremes, the most primitive:
      Develop in reptilian-like eggs and suckle milk emerging
      (i.e., spiny anteater, duckbilled platypus)

      Newborn emerges very underdeveloped and continue to
      mature in a pouch on its mother's abdomen (i.e., opossums,
      koala, kangaroo)

      Embryo develops within the uterus of the female and is
      dependent on a placenta for nutrition and waste removal
      (i.e., humans, lions, monkeys)  

About sixty-five million years ago, the Tertiary era produced thirty-five orders of mammals. Of this number, eighteen have survived to represent Earth's most diversified as well as its most highly developed classification of animals.

Extinction of mammals is fast becoming a serious issue. Duff and Lawson present a list of forty-one extinct species that reached extinction prior to 1800. These forty-one species are not acknowledged in the counts of the various families. Duff and Lawson also present a list of forty-six species including three gazelles, one zebra, one seal, one deer, and one wolf that have probably gone extinct since 1800. These forty-six species are included in the family counts. Science is adding about forty to fifty new species a year to the list. Many of these are the result of divisions of prior species; some are recent discoveries.

Mammals owe their survival to adaptive capabilities that include the ability to exploit whatever sources of food are available to them, as well as their ability to adjust to various climes. Food specialization influenced evolution to such a great extent that the teeth structure can and has been used to provide extensive information on the food needs and various lifestyles of extinct species.

Despite the vast diversity among mammals in terms of size, habitats and adaptations, they share without exception many characteristics such as:  

    a. body hair
    b. mammary glands
    c. certain skull characteristics
    d. four limbs that permit speed
    e. parallel not perpendicular limbs
    f. compartmentalized internal organs
    g. a four-chambered heart and pulmonary circulation

Backboned Animals (Phylum Chordata) are the most advanced group of animals on earth. These animals are characterized by having a spinal cord or backbone. Most members have a clearly defined brain that controls the organism through a spinal cord. Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are in this phylum.

Currently, some taxonomists believe that the fish should be divided into two groups (sharks and regular fishes) and that there are some other primitive groups in the phylum such as hagfish or lampreys.

Animal Kingdom contains numerous organisms that feed on other animals or plants. Included in the animal kingdom are the lower marine invertebrates such as sponges and corals, the jointed legged animals such as insects and spiders, and the backboned animals such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.


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