Tuskless Elephants Evolved to Escape the Animal Trafficking

We generally see elephants having tusks, right? But now the elephants have evolved naturally tuskless, this is something unnatural selection. These elephants are being born without any tusks at a very high rate. You know, more than 20,000 African elephants have been illegally killed for their ivory tusks every year in the world. They are killed because of tusks, and due to the overhunting of animals now nature takes revenge on born tuskless elephants. 

Tuskless Elephants Evolved to Escape the animal trafficking

Yes, how it is even possible right? You might have been thinking this but according to a new study, that previous overhunting has led to the increase of naturally tuskless elephants in Mozambique. It is said that during the time of the Mozambique war from 1977 to 1992, the armies hunted a large number of elephants for their ivory tusks the species evolved in the span of a generation.

That war left a scar on local elephant populations, as the elephant numbers are fallen and the amount of female African savannah elephants born tuskless rose from just 18% to 51%. The decades of trafficking of animals and the constant killing of tusked elephants made being tuskless more advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park.

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Furthermore, this mutation has protected some of the elephants from ivory hunters as the tusks are actually massive teeth that are deeply rooted in the elephant’s enamel and used for digging, gathering food, lifting objects, stripping bark off of trees to eat, and defense. It is the hereditary trait that causes female elephants to be born without tusks and is formed by two tooth genes, and in the male, this mutation is lethal. This evolutionary change in the African savannah elephant population is so significant, scientists predict that the species will continue to experience its impact for future generations.

This is whatever genetic mutation took away these elephants’ tusks was also killing the male elephants. Meanwhile, the team calculated the data before the war, nearly one in five females were tuskless. And today, half of Gorongosa’s females are tuskless. The females who survived the war are passing the trait to their generations. And this change was almost certainly because of natural selection, and not a random change. Moreover, it seems to be a dominant trait that is carried by females, that’s lethal to males which means a female with one copy of the tuskless mutation has no tusks. Half of the female baby elephants will have tusks, and half will be tuskless. Among her sons, though, half will have tusks and the other half will die, before birth.

Even the team of experts doesn’t know what the exact changes are causing this loss of tusks in the elephants, and the rise of tusklessness may affect not just individual elephants but the entire population.

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