Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Elephant and Rhinoceros Rumble the Jungle

Jingle, jingle, jingle ka-ching! That’s what we’re going to be hearing very soon! Christmas is right around the corner at only: 40 days away! That’s one month and ten days! Not a long time to wait!

Today folks, we’re going through a lot of stuff today, including the premiere of my latest stop-motion film: “Animal Face-Off: Elephant vs. Rhino”. First though, I told you last week that I’d show you my pictures for this craft fair that I drew. And here are the ones I drew for this particular fair (I have others, but it would take so long us to view them here):



Two Carnotaurus


A pair of Tylosaurus

A parent Gigantoraptor

A mother and baby Miragaia

A Triceratops and T. rex facing off in the background. A mother Leptictidium and her young watch in the foreground.


A juvenile T. rex

A parent Oviraptor
A lot of pictures huh? This is another classic example of one thing God has gifted me with. Hey! I have an idea, send me your pictures! God has blessed us with a number of abilities and talents. Some have the gift of drawing. So send your best pictures to Then I will put them on the blog so other people can see them. Need help putting your pictures into the computer or some other complication? Send your questions to my email address. In a few weeks, they will be on this blog for all to see!

The craft fair was quite good. We didn’t sell as much as we had hoped, but at least we made our table back. That was good. I didn’t sell that many of the big pictures (I only sold one), but the postcards sold very well towards the middle of the time we were sitting there. I’ll tell you, during the first half, it was slow and boring. I’m glad in the end though we did make a profit, thank God for that!

The largest mammal alive on the planet today is no doubt, the mighty elephant! I am a HUGE elephant fan! When I was little, I was into cows, until I turned about two years old. Then I got into elephants. But elephants are much more varied and complex than most of us realize. So let’s take a look at them now before we get onto the face-off!

Now as you’ve probably already noticed, elephants are big! The largest ones alive today, the Loxidonta Africana, or African Bush Elephants grow 25 feet long, 13 feet tall at the shoulder and the largest males weigh over seven tons! That’s about as much as a Tyrannosaurus rex (give or take a few tons of course).

You’ve also no doubt noticed that elephants possess a long nose that we call a trunk. This appendage is way more complex than what meets the eye. For one thing, it has over 150 thousand muscles! No wonder they are so strong! The elephant uses its trunk for a variety of uses – anything from smelling, to putting food into the mouth, to getting water to drink, to picking things up – the trunk is very useful to an elephant. Without its trunk, the elephant probably won’t survive very long. It would be like us losing our fingers, hands, arms, nose, and lips. Elephant trunks are strong enough to lift a heavy log (they do this quite often in the wild), and an elephant can kill a lion with its trunk in a single blow. And yet, it’s dexterous enough to take a small object from the hand of a small child.

An elephant raising its trunk
Now onto the elephant’s other weapons – its tusks. The tusks of a bull African elephant can grow over seven feet long (the record is nine feet long). The elephant’s tusks are normally used to dig waterholes and strip trees of their bark, but they can also deliver a deadly goring. African Elephants males and females have lengthy tusks, but in their close relatives, the Asian Elephants, only the males have tusks.

Today, there are three species of elephants alive:

African Bush Elephant

African Forest Elephant

Asian Elephant
Now older textbooks will tell you that there are only two species of elephants. But this was before they made an astounding discovery in the deep jungles of Central Africa. In the jungle, there are types of elephants called Forest Elephants and at first, scientists were sure that the Forest Elephant was a subspecies of the Bush Elephant. But after taking a close look at their DNA, scientists learned that they’re actually two different species. They are still cousins, but there is enough genetic variation in them to consider them two species. The elephant we’ll meet when it’s time for the face-off is the Bush African Elephant, the largest land mammal alive today.

The range of the African Elephant
Elephant cows live in herds consisting of mothers, their calves, daughters, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, great grandmothers and etc. Male elephants leave the herd when they turn around 12 years old to start life either alone or in a bachelor group. African Elephant cows live in closely knit family groups, meanwhile Asian Elephant herds aren’t so close-knit. The herd is run by the oldest female in the group – the matriarch. She can be anywhere between the ages of 40 and death (elephants can live for up to 80 years in the wild). The matriarch is by no coincidence the wisest member of the herd, and she remembers where all the waterholes, rivers and feeding areas are too. This comes in handy when droughts arrive. You may have heard the saying, “An elephant never forgets.” Well, elephants’ memories are superb. God has given these animals the ability to remember even past loved ones. When an elephant hasn’t seen one of its buddies in a little (or long) while, they will show affection for each other and wrap their trunks together. When an elephant is on the verge of dying, the other members of the elephant herd try to help her up. If she ends up dying, the herd doesn’t just leave her to it. Most animals, even mammals simply leave the dying behind. With the exception of a mother losing a dying calf, wildebeest do it, rhinoceros do it, sharks do it, lions do it, tigers do it, giraffes do it, zebras do it, gazelle do it, bears do it and the list goes on and on and on. Other than humans, elephants are one of the few living organisms that will stay by their dying loved one (hippos can show similar behaviors too). It’s almost like they have a silent moment of prayer. Then years later, the flesh rots away and sometimes the herd comes walking by the remains. Elephants are very curious animals and when they see the remains of an elephant skeleton, they will curiously check it out. You know, tug on the bones, put their trunks through the skull holes and blow in the now empty tusks. Another example of an elephant’s terrific memory.

A herd of African elephants feeding
Elephant calves weigh around 200 pounds at birth. But as we all know, they don’t stay that way! Mother elephants are wonderful parents. They will defend their baby at any cost. When predators such as lions or hyenas show up, they will often close-ranks – the adult elephants get in a circle surrounding the calves and show a defensive wall of tusks toward a potential attacker.

Where an elephant calf is, the mother isn't far away
There may be only three species of elephants living today, but it wasn't always this way. At one time, there were once well over 600 different species of elephants! (See one of my previous articles RETURN OF THEGREAT MAMMOTHS for more). Here are a few examples of some extinct elephants:

Woolly Mammoth




You may have noticed the Woolly Mammoth on this list. While I love mammoths, I will save them for a later post, we’ll just stick to the “normal-lookingish” elephants today.

Elephants ranged in sizes too. One species grew almost as tall as a giraffe. At 15 feet tall at the shoulder, Deinotherium (above) was one of the largest elephants ever to exist. You may have noticed that instead of tusks curving upwards, its tusks are curving downward and are placed on the chin! Why on earth did God do that? Well, scientists don’t know, but they were most likely used to strip tree bark to get to the soft inner bark. This elephant weighed 14 tons and could be found in Asia, Europe, and Africa. What a behemoth!

While some elephants grew unbelievably huge, some were so surprisingly the opposite. Yep, meet the Dwarf Sicilian Elephant:

Aren't elephants meant to be really, really large? Well, no one told the Dwarf Sicilian Elephant that! (This image was taken off of ZooTycoon wiki)
Despite being related to normal elephants (especially Asian Elephants), this animal obviously lacks exactly what most of us expect all elephants to have. This little guy only grew about three feet tall. So for those of you who would define an elephant as, “A large animal with tusks, a trunk and big ears,” well, I just changed your definition of an elephant! The Dwarf Sicilian Elephant didn’t only live in Sicily, it also lived in many other islands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Much like the rhino we learned about in the previous entry, the elephants living today are in danger of extinction (go figure!). Why are these animals endangered? Well, because of their ivory tusks. People wish to make a quick buck and so they go out to shoot the elephants, extract their tusks, and leave the rest of the body lying on the ground. As a matter of fact, a single tusk from an African elephant can be worth more than $19,500!
This elephant has some really long tusks!
People have been hunting elephants since the Ice Age, but it wasn't till the invention of guns and bullets that elephant numbers began to plummet. In the 20th century, their numbers went way down. Between 1973 and 1989, about 90% of Kenya’s elephant population had been killed by poachers. This has had a terrible effect on elephants other than just their numbers: often times, when poachers come by, the matriarch of the herd will often charge at them and well . . . if she’s dead, the next oldest member of the herd takes the reins, but the problem with this is that she has not yet learned the ins and outs of being leader. Another problem is that poachers love killing bulls with large tusks. These bulls are the healthiest and best bulls to pass their genes onto the next generation. So if they are shot, we’re left with weaker male elephants with smaller tusks. Some African elephants have actually been born without tusks because they don’t have the genes for them.

Fortunately, there are lots of people who wish to save elephants from extinction. Eventually, the news of the elephant’s plight was broken to the government of Kenya. So in 1989 the president of Kenya had more than 2,000 confiscated elephant tusks burned in flames to show that Kenya’s wildlife service was going to do whatever it takes to stop elephant poaching. They have even made hunting, and selling elephant tusks illegal. This has helped the elephant population recover some, but there are still poachers who will risk being caught to shoot elephants for their tusks. Well, there are rangers out now that help stop poachers. And lately, there’s a new squad in town who helps with fighting elephant poachers: elephants themselves!

Elephants are now being used to help track down poachers like a police dog tracking down criminals. Elephants have an acute sense of smell and hearing, so they can hear and smell poachers that might otherwise be missed by just rangers themselves. Elephants also can cross the terrain much faster than a ranger or a Jeep can, so elephants are the way to go! Did you know you can help save elephants too?

It’s actually rather easy to do. As with the rhinos we learned about last week, one of the best ways to stop the illegal trade of elephant ivory is to stop the demand – one of the easiest things to do is simply not to buy or except gifts of ivory. If you are offered something made of ivory, politely tell the person why. Also be sure to tell your friends and family not to buy this product. Who knows? Maybe elephants will one day be taken off the endangered species list!

Did you know elephants play soccer? Sometimes, the mother elephant is shot by poachers and this leaves an orphan elephant calf, such as this one. Fortunately, there are now special groups that rescue and raise baby elephants!
Alright, I know you all have waited ever so patiently for this moment. Here it is folks, my latest Animal Face-Off: Elephant vs. Rhino! Let’s see who wins:

Who knew that animal could kill the other! That was awesome! But what I want to know is what you think! Please simply post your comments to say what you think about this short film.

Well, that’s about all that’s been happening around here. Please check back next week to see the next stop-motion movie: Animal Face-Off: Velociraptor vs. Protoceratops. See you later!


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