African elephants (also known as savanna elephants) are the species of elephants in the genus Loxodonta (Greek for 'oblique-sided tooth'), one of the two existing genera in Elephantidae. Although it is commonly believed that the genus was named by Georges Cuvier in 1825, Cuvier spelled it Loxodonte. An anonymous author romanized the spelling to Loxodonta and the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) recognizes this as the proper authority.Fossil members of Loxodonta have only been found in Africa, where they developed in the middle Pliocene.
African elephant society is arranged around family units. In each family unit are around ten individuals made up of closely related females and their calves. Each family unit is led by an old female known as the matriarch. When separate family units bond, they form kinship groups or bond groups. After puberty, male elephants tend to form alliances with other males.
Elephants are at their most fertile between the ages of 25 and 45. Calves are born after a gestation period of nearly two years. They are cared for by their mother and other young females in the group, known as allomothers.
Elephants use some vocalisations that are beyond the hearing range of humans, to communicate across large distances.
African elephants can eat up to 450 kilograms of vegetation per day though their digestive system is not very efficient and only 40% of this food is properly digested. They use their trunk to pluck at leaves and their tusks to tear at branches, which can cause enormous damage.
African elephants are highly intelligent, and they have a very large and highly convoluted neocortex, a trait also shared by humans, apes and certain dolphin species. They are amongst the world's most intelligent species. With a mass of just over 5 kg (11 lb), elephant brains are larger than those of any other land animal, and although the largest whales have body masses twenty-fold those of a typical elephant, whale brains are barely twice the mass of an elephant's brain. The elephant's brain is similar to that of humans in terms of structure and complexity - such as the elephant's cortex having as many neurons as a human brain, suggesting convergent evolution.
Elephants exhibit a wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, learning, allomothering, mimicry, art, play, a sense of humor, altruism, use of tools, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, memory and possibly language. All point to a highly intelligent species that are thought to be equal with cetaceans and primates.