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Teeth & Tusks

Monday 9 June 2008, by SĂ©bastien Duffillot

Teeth & Tusks

Tusks act as both attacking and defensive weapons, and are also used to dig in the ground for tubers and roots. Tusks consist of ivory, a much sought after and very expensive material. The value of ivory is largely responsible for the serious depletion of wild elephant herds. Despite bans on its trade, unscrupulous poachers have massacred many elephants to take and sell their tusks. Tusks, which are deeply rooted in the cranium, are in fact extremely extended upper incisors. The longest tusks ever found came from a male African ele-phant and measured 3.5 m in length. The elephants have only four molar teeth, one on each side of the lower and upper jaws. Each molar is a massive plate, approximately 30 cm long and 10 cm wide. When they are worn down by chewing vegetation, they are replaced by bigger new teeth which move down from the back of the jaws.

Ancestors

Anatomy

Asia and Africa

Trunk

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