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Lesser Known Facts About  Better Known Animal - Elephants     
Prof. Dr. Jacob V. Cheeran

Elephants are the most attractive animals in the world,
whether it is in the zoo or living free in their natural
habitat. No animal has been put to varied uses as
elephants. They are venerable in Hindu pantheon as well
as in Buddhism.  Interestingly, elephants were used as
war machines as well as a beast of burden in the forest.

Taxonomically the elephant belongs to the Order
Proboscidea and Family Elephantidae comprising of two
genera, the Asian and African.  Asian Elephants, also
known as Indian elephants, are seen in the Indian
subcontinent, southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri
Lanka, Indo-China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.  In
India, currently they are seen in the wild only in southern,
northeastern and eastern states and Himalayan valleys.

Many people overestimate the weight of elephants.  
Actually they are not as "solid" as rhino or pig.   An Asian
cow elephant weighs only 2.5 3.5 tones and a bull weighs
3.5-5 tones.  Weighing an elephant is not an easy thing.  
It can be done by making the animal stand on a
weighbridge usually used to weigh automobiles like
trucks.  Scientists have developed different formulae by
taking measurements of girth, neck, length and
calculating the weight using a formula.

In Asian elephants, only the males have tusks, while their
African cousins have tusks both in male and female.  
There are males without tusks known as 'makhnas'.  
Makhnas are very common in Sri Lanka.  Makhnas are
also very powerful and sexually active males.  Elephants   
and   Giraffes   have   only   seven vertebrae in their neck
(cervical- C7).  Their short neck helps elephants to keep
their huge head in horizontal position.  Also it helps them
to perform "head-stand" in circuses.  

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