Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Elephant Species

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Photographer: Johnny Liunggren.
Researchers have put an end to debate about whether the African Elephant is one species, or two. New findings published in the journal Public Library of Science Biology show that the African Elephants that dwell in the savannah are a distinct species from those that dwell in the forests.

Loxodonta africana, the savannah dwellers, are much larger and in some cases twice as heavy as Loxodonta cyclotis, the forest dwellers. The debate about whether the elephants were separate species has been going on for at least a decade. The research shows that the two species diverged from their common ancestor around the same time that humans and chimpanzees evolved. How long ago the species split was a surprise for the researchers.

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