English zoologist Frederick Nutter Chasen classified all three as subspecies of the Asian elephant in 1940.
Asian elephants vary geographically in their colour and amount of depigmentation. One disputed subspecies, the Borneo elephant, lives in northern Borneo and is smaller than all the other subspecies.
Their closest extant relatives are the sirenians (dugongs and manatees) and the hyraxes, with which they share the clade Paenungulata within the superorder Afrotheria.
African elephants have larger ears, a concave back, more wrinkled skin, a sloping abdomen, and two finger-like extensions at the tip of the trunk.
Asian elephants have smaller ears, a convex or level back, smoother skin, a horizontal abdomen that occasionally sags in the middle and one extension at the tip of the trunk.
Calves are the centre of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years. They communicate by touch, sight, smell, and sound; elephants use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances.
Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans.
The groups are led by an individual known as the matriarch, often the oldest cow.
Elephants have a fission–fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialise.
Elephants are highly recognisable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature, and popular culture.
Elephants belong to the family Elephantidae, the sole remaining family within the order Proboscidea.
cyclotis), and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).