(Elephas maximus)

  •  Over 200 bones make up the Elephant’s skeletal system.
  •  It has seven neck vertebrae, but unlike most herbivores, the elephant’s vertebrae are flat disc shapes to support the weight of the tusks and trunk.
  •  The ribs extend down most of the spine to form a large barrel shaped rib cage.
  •  The limbs are made of different parts which are in a direct line with each other creating a strong support for the elephant’s large mass.
  • Instead of marrow cavities the leg bones have a spongy bone helping the bones create strength and light weight.
  •  Elephants don’t have a collar bone but the large shoulder blades give support for muscles from the front legs
  • A bulbous forehead which contain sinuses
  •  The brain is located in the cranial cavity; which is behind the eyes.
  •  Elephant has an almost vertical pelvis that is greatly expanded.
  • The neck of the African elephant is almost horizontal whereas in the Asian elephant, it is held at approximately 45o.
  • African elephants have up to 21 pairs, Asians up to 20.


  • The tusks of an elephant are modified second incisors in the upper jaw that grow throughout an individual’s life at a rate of several 17 cm per year. .
  • They are composed of ivory, a material similar to bone that is made primarily of calcium and phosphate.
  • The tusk has a pulp cavity containing nerve tissues.
  • In an adult animal, about two-thirds of the tusk is visible while the remaining one-third is embedded in the socket.
  • Newly developing tusks have a conical cap of smooth enamel that eventually wears off.
  • Not all elephants develop visible tusks; in the Asian species, only some males have large, prominent tusks.
  • Most female and some male Asian elephants have small tusks, called tushes, which seldom protrude more than an inch or two from the lip line.
  • Tushes have a slightly different composition than tusks. They are small and brittle, causing them to easily break.


  • Have thick bases with thin tips.
  • Ear flaps contain numerous blood vessels called capillaries.
  • Warm blood flows into the capillaries, helping to release excess body heat into the environment.
  • Larger ear surfaces contain more capillaries, and more heat can be released.
  • Of all the elephants, African bush elephants live in the hottest climates, and have the largest ear flaps.