name = Proboscidea
fossil_range = Late Paleocene - Recent

image_width = 250px
image_caption = African Elephant
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
infraclassis = Eutheria
superordo = Afrotheria
ordo = Proboscidea
ordo_authority = Illiger, 1811
subdivision_ranks = Groups
subdivision = †Jozaria

Proboscidea is an order containing only one family of living animals, Elephantidae, the elephants, with three living species (African Bush Elephant, African Forest Elephant, and Asian Elephant).MSW3 Shoshani|pages=90-91]

During the period of the last ice age there were more, now extinct species, including the genus of elephants Mammuthus (mammoths) and the elephant-like species the mastodons. Further back in time, in the late Tertiary, there were many more different types, including the "shovel tuskers" like "Platybelodon" and "Amebelodon". The earliest known proboscidean is "Phosphatherium" dating from paleocene deposits of Morocco. From the Eocene, several very primitive proboscideans are known, including the African "Numidotherium", "Barytherium", "Moeritherium" and the Anthracobunidae from the Indian subcontinent.


Paleontologists know of about 170 fossil species which they classify as belonging to the Proboscidea (Gr. "proboskis," elephant's trunk, from "pro," before, + "boskein," to feed) group. The oldest dates from the early Tertiary period, over 56 million years ago. A discovery in December, 2003 has forced a new estimate of the age of elephant-like species to around 27 million years. Most of these early elephants had four short tusks; two on the upper jaw and two on the lower. "Primelephas", the ancestor of mammoths and modern elephants, appeared in the late Miocene epoch, about 7 million years ago. The evolution of the elephant-like animals mainly concerned the proportions of the cranium and jaw and the shape of the tusks and molar teeth.


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