A New Elephant Species

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.


Little Drummer Girls

Well, not so little. This video by Vicki Croke and videographer Christen Goguen shows the two Asian elephants at the Buttonwood Park Zoo I visited toward the end of writing ELEPHANT TALK. Obviously, I didn’t ask the zookeepers Jenny and Kay the right questions, because they didn’t fess up at the time to their considerable improvisational drumming skills.

In the video, you can see elephants Emily and Ruth getting down with their big, bad selves…and displaying many of the body language gestures and chirps, trumpets, and rumbles I discuss in ELEPHANT TALK. These are two happy elephants.

Wishing you all the joys of the season.