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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