Elephant diets changed millions of years before their teeth

Elephant diets changed millions of years before their teeth

The animals fed on grasses long before their molars could grind the tough plants

By Erin Wayman, 09:07 AM June 26, 2013

The ancestors of African elephants grazed on grasses millions of years before they evolved teeth that could grind the tough, gritty plants, a new analysis finds.

Some 20 million years ago, elephant ancestors inhabited forests and nibbled on leaves with low-crowned, rounded teeth. Roughly 8 million years ago, while grasslands were expanding across East Africa, ancient elephants switched to a grass diet, paleontologist Adrian Lister of the Natural History Museum in London reports June 26 in Natu...

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