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OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2011 | 2322 | OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2011he largest and heaviest living land animals, elephants are mammals belonging to the family Elephantidae. They are the only surviving members of the order Proboscidea, which is named after the group’s most distinguishing organ – the proboscis or trunk. In prehistoric times, the order contained many species of large elephant-like creatures that lived in Africa, North America, Europe and Asia. Today, only two species survive: the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Extinct cousins of the two extant elephantids include the mam-moths (Mammuthus spp.). These huge elephant-like beasts, of which there were seven species, thrived in cool climates and fed largely on grass. The most well-known representative of this genus is the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), which had a long coat of shaggy hair that helped it survive harsh winters in the Arctic. Mastodons are distant cousins of modern-day...