SHANNON BENSON, VW PICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHANNON BENSON, VW PICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
African bush elephants are the largest living terrestrial animals, being up to 3.96 m tall at the shoulders. On average, males are 3.3 metres tall at the shoulders and 5.5 tonnes in weight, while females are much smaller at 2.8 metres tall and 3.7 tonnes in weight. The most characteristic features of African elephants are their very large ears, which they use to radiate excess heat, and their trunk, an extension of the upper lip and nose with two opposing extensions at its end, different from the Asian elephant, which only has one. The trunk is used for communication and handling objects and food. African elephants also have bigger tusks, large modified incisors that grow throughout an elephant's lifetime. They occur in both males and females and are used in fights and for marking, feeding, and digging.
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