How Many Chromosomes Do Elephants Have ?

How Many Chromosomes Do Elephants Have ?

What is a chromosome? Let’s start at the beginning. The building blocks of the body which make up tissues and organs comprise of billions of cells. But each cell has to be given instructions as to how to grow, behave, develop and function. These very specific instructions are contained in DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid which is the genetic material.

DNA is unique to every individual on the planet. More particularly, it is genes that comprise the DNA that carry these instructions. Genes come in discrete units which are packaged in a material called chromosomes.

Every living organism has a set number of chromosomes which come in matching pairs. One chromosome in each cell is inherited from the father and the other from the mother.

The elephant is the largest known land animal. There are three living species -- the African Forest elephant, the African Bush elephant and the Asian or Indian elephant. It is common for an elephant calf to weigh in at 120 kilograms or 260 pounds at birth. This will give you some idea of its size.

The number of chromosomes in a living organism apparently bears no relevance to its size. A human being for example has 46 chromosomes that come in 23 pairs. A little shrimp on the other hand has 254 chromosomes. Elephants -- both African and Asian --contain 56 chromosomes. Surprisingly studies that have been conducted on pre-historic mammoths reveal that they had 58 chromosomes. So in the process of evolution they appear to have shed a pair.

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How Many Chromosomes Do Elephants Have