Elephant Development

From Embryology


African elephant cow and calf
African elephant cow and calf
  • The average gestation age for elephants is 660 days.
  • An infant elephant is called a calf and a newborn can weigh 90 to 120 kilograms (198 to 264 pounds).
    • The calf suckles milk from its mother taking up to 12 litres each day.
  • Adult male elephant is called a bull and can weigh up to 6,800 kilograms (15,000 pounds).
  • Adult female elephant is called a cow and can weigh up to 3,600 kilograms (8,000 pounds).


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Some Recent Findings

  • Growth and development of the ovary and small follicle pool from mid fetal life to pre-puberty in the African elephant (Loxodonta africana)[1] "Follicle numbers and developing ovarian morphology, particularly with reference to the presence of interstitial tissue, are intimately linked within the ovary of the African elephant during the period spanning mid-gestation to puberty. These have not been previously quantified in any studies. The collection of 7 sets of elephant fetal ovaries between 11.2 and 20.2 months of gestation, and 29 pairs of prepubertal calf ovaries between 2 months and 9 years of age. ...The small follicle populations of the late-fetal and prepubertal ovaries of the African elephant were described along with the changing morphology of these organs. The changes noted represent a series of events that have been recorded only in the elephant and the giraffe species to date. The expansion of the interstitial tissue of the fetal ovary and its continued presence in early post natal life may well contribute to the control of follicle development in these early years. Further research is required to determine the reasons behind the variation of numbers of small follicles in the ovaries of prepubertal calves."
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Search term: Elephant Development

<pubmed limit=5>Elephant Development</pubmed>


Elephant and calf
  • African forest elephant - Loxodonta cyclotis
  • African savanna elephant - Loxodonta africana
  • Asiatic elephant - Elephas maximus

cellular organisms; Eukaryota; Opisthokonta; Metazoa; Eumetazoa; Bilateria; Deuterostomia; Chordata; Craniata; Vertebrata; Gnathostomata; Teleostomi; Euteleostomi; Sarcopterygii; Dipnotetrapodomorpha; Tetrapoda; Amniota; Mammalia; Theria; Eutheria; Afrotheria; Proboscidea; Elephantidae; Loxodonta


Development Overview

Days below are post-ovulatory.
  • 50 days - embryonic vesicle earliest observation
  • 62 days - embryo detectable
  • 71 days - embryonic heartbeat and allantois visible as a single sacculation
  • 76 days - allantois subdivided in four compartments
  • 95 days - head, rump, front and hind legs distinguishable
  • 95 to 103 days - choriovitelline placenta was replaced by the chorioallantoic placenta
  • 95 to 116 days - midgut herniation

Data from[2]

Elephant fetal stages

Elephant fetal stages

Ovary and Uterus

Elephant ovary and uterus

Fetal and postnatal elephant ovary and uterus[3]

Additional Images

Historic Images


  1. <pubmed>22824067</pubmed>| BMC Vet Res.
  2. <pubmed>18387665</pubmed>
  3. <pubmed>22824067</pubmed>| BMC Vet Res.




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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, June 14) Embryology Elephant Development. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Elephant_Development

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© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G