Journal Mobile Options
Table of Contents
Vol. 93, No. 3-4, 2001
Issue release date: 2001
Cytogenet Cell Genet 93:249–252 (2001)

Comparative cytogenetics of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus)

Houck M.L. · Kumamoto A.T. · Gallagher Jr D.S. · Benirschke K.
aThe Zoological Society of San Diego, Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species, San Diego, CA, and bDepartment of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (USA)

Individual Users: Register with Karger Login Information

Please create your User ID & Password

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.

To view the fulltext, please log in

To view the pdf, please log in


G- and C-banded karyotypes of the two extant species of the mammalian order Proboscidea are presented for the first time. Chromosome complements were 2n = 56 in both Loxodonta africana and Elephas maximus. Comparisons between the species demonstrated a high level of chromosome band homology, with 26 conserved autosomal pairs. The normal diploid karyotype of L. africana had 25 acrocentric/telocentric and two metacentric/submetacentric autosomal pairs. E. maximus differed by having one less acrocentric and one additional submetacentric pair due to either a heterochromatic arm addition or deletion involving autosomal pair 27. Several acrocentric autosomes of L. africana exhibited small short arms that were absent in homologous chromosomes of E. maximus. The X chromosomes in both species were large submetacentric elements and were homologous. However, the small acrocentric Y chromosomes differed; in E. maximus it was slightly larger and had more distinct G-bands than its counterpart in L. africana. Extant Elephantidae appear to be relatively conservative in their rates of chromosomal change compared to some other mammalian families. The high-quality banded karyotypes presented here should prove useful as references in future chromosome analyses of elephant populations and in comparative cytogenetic studies with other ungulate orders.   

Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.


  1. Davis S, Benirschke K: Observation on the placenta of elephants. 33rd International Symposium on Erkrankungen der Zoo und Wildtiere, pp 39–45 (Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1991).
  2. Fagan DA, Benirschke K, Simon JHS, Roocroft A: Elephant dental pulp tissue: where are the nerves? J vet Dent 16:169–172 (2000).
  3. Fernando P, Pfrender ME, Encalada SE, Lande R: Mitochondrial DNA variation, phylogeography and population structure of the Asian elephant. Heredity 84:362–372 (2000).

    External Resources

  4. Hartl GB, Kurt F, Wolfgang H, Nadlinger K: Electrophoretic and chromosomal variation in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Zoo Biol 14:87–95 (1995).
  5. Hösli P, Thürig D: The karyotype of the male African elephant: Loxodonta africana. Mammal Chrom Newsl 2:110–112 (1970).
  6. Howard AL: “Motty”—birth of an African/Asian elephant at Chester Zoo. Elephant 1(3):36–41 (1979).
  7. Hungerford DA, Sharat Chandra H, Snyder RL, Ulmer Jr FA: Chromosomes of three elephants, two Asian (Elephas maximus) and one African (Loxodonta africana). Cytogenetics 5:243–246 (1966).

    External Resources

  8. Hsu TC, Benirschke K: Elephus maximus (Indian or Asian elephant) 2n = 56, in Hsu TC, Benirschke K (eds): An Atlas of Mammalian Chromosomes, Vol 5, Folio 239 (Springer-Verlag, New York 1971a).
  9. Hsu TC, Benirschke K: Loxodonta africana (African elephant) 2n = 56, in Hsu TC, Benirschke K (eds): An Atlas of Mammalian Chromosomes, Vol 6, Folio 288 (Springer-Verlag, New York 1971b).
  10. Kumamoto AT, Charter SJ, Houck ML, Frahm M: Chromosomes of Damaliscus (Artiodactyla, Bovidae): simple and complex centric fusion arrangements. Chrom Res 4:614–621 (1996).
  11. Madsen O, Scally M, Douady CJ, Kao DJ, DeBry RW, Adkins R, Amrine HM, Stanhope MJ, de Jong WW, Springer MS: Parallel adaptive radiations in two major clades of placental mammals. Nature 409:610–614 (2001).
  12. Murphy WJ, Eizirik E, Johnson WE, Zhang YP, Ryder OA, O’Brien SJ: Molecular phylogenetics and the origins of placental mammals. Nature 409:614–618 (2001).
  13. Nowak RM: Walker’s Mammals of the World, 6th Ed (John’s Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 1999).
  14. Norberg HS: The chromosomes of the Indian female elephant (Elephas indicus syn. E. maximus L.). Hereditas 63:279–281 (1969).

    External Resources

  15. Richman LK, Montali RJ, Garber RL, Kennedy MA, Lenhardt J, Hildebrandt T, Schmitt D, Hardy D, Alcendor DJ, Hayward GS: Novel endotheliotropic herpesviruses fatal for Asian and African elephants. Science 283:1171–1176 (1999).
  16. Thürig D: Zum Chromosomenbild des Afrikanischen Elefanten (Loxodonta africana) unter Berücksichtigung des Sexchromatins. Acta anat 75:6–12 (1970).

    External Resources

  17. Vaughn TA: Mammalogy, 3rd Ed (CBS College Publishing, Philadelphia 1986).
  18. Wallace C: Chromosome analysis in the Kruger National Park: mitotic and meiotic studies in the African elephant Loxodonta africana. Koedoe 21:197–200 (1978).

Pay-per-View Options
Direct payment This item at the regular price: USD 33.00
Payment from account With a Karger Pay-per-View account (down payment USD 150) you profit from a special rate for this and other single items.
This item at the discounted price: USD 23.00