Scientists have long known that Africa’s secretive forest elephants were different. They were much smaller, about half the size of elephants that lived on the grassy savanna. They also were darker in color, with pink tusks. For a long time, forest elephants were classified as a subspecies of African elephant.
Now DNA studies have confirmed what some researchers have long suspected. Forest elephants are an entirely different species. In fact, by looking deep into the elephants’ DNA, scientists learned that the two African elephant species split off around the same time Asian and Savanna elephants first diverged–between 2.6 and 5.6 million years ago.
An article about the newest research is available here. You can read more about all three species of elephant when ELEPHANT TALK comes out next month.