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Todd, Nancy E. Department of Biology and Environmental Studies, Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York.
- Fossil record and evolutionary history
- Closest relatives
- Evolutionary trends
- Living elephants
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The order Proboscidea was first described in 1811 by Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger, who named members of this group for their long proboscis, or trunk, which is so characteristic of many species (Greek proboskis = pro, which means forward or before; and bosko, which means to feed or nourish). Proboscideans are a taxonomic order of mammals containing the living Asian and African elephants. It is one of the most derived groups of mammals and also one of the earliest modern orders to appear in the fossil record. The classification of proboscideans is frequently revised, with new fossils and new investigations, and some relationships within the order remain unclear. At least 177 species and subspecies of proboscideans, classified in 43 genera, are now recognized, although the majority of these are extinct species.
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