Science Behind the Photo #8

African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

Recent research has described Elephants, the world’s largest land mammals as ‘ecological engineers’, as their natural activities include modifying habitats in ways that affect many other species. The way in which elephants modify the habitats range from digging with their front legs to actually knocking down trees! Although such behavior may make the landscape less attractive to humans, new research suggests that in places where elephants are allowed to roam and carry out such activities, there are more species and a higher diversity of amphibians and reptiles. Added to this, elephants are rejuvenating landscapes through the inadequacies of their digestive systems! An elephant’s digestive system is not very efficient at processing seeds. Consequently, their faeces is not only a great fertiliser, but it is also highly efficient at transporting seeds around their territories!

Did you know?
It is commonly believed that the elephant genus was named in 1825 by George Cuiver who initially spelt the genus Loxodonte but the spelling was romanised to Loxodonta by an anonymous author.

By Tom Welch

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