2 Species, Not 1

Africa has two elephant species, genetic analysis confirms.

Here you have it folks. There are the African forest elephants and the African savanna elephants.

Modern genetics really is amazing what it can determine. Apparently the difference between the two is as old as the difference between chimps and humans. Whoda thunk it?

Now I’m going to be honest. I can’t tell the difference between the two, and I don’t doubt that a number of people at zoos will confuse the two as well. Supposedly there is a significant size difference between the two, but I can’t tell from the pictures. I’d like to see 10 of each new species next to each other, so I could attempt to see the size difference.

I have two questions about this whole thing:

1. How significant are the genetic differences between the two species? The human and chimp genomes are 98% similar. What’s the percent similarity between the two species, and why is it significant to determine that there are in fact two distinct species here?

2. Which new species’ ears look more like Africa?



Top: African forest elephants. Bottom: African savanna elephants.



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