Monday, December 27, 2010
Scientists have discovered a new species of elephant, and it's been right under their noses the whole time.
Before the discovery, only two species of elephants were known: Asian (Elephas maximus) and African. The new species is a smaller version of the African elephant, called Forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). The other larger African elephant is now called Savanna elephant (Loxodonta Africana).
The two species diverged between 2.5 and 5 million years ago. Previously, researchers believed the two elephants to be the same species, but mitochondrial DNA analysis showed that they are distinct species. However, they can (theoretically) still interbreed.
Researchers: African elephants are two species - CNN