Elephants belong to the order of Proboscidea.
On the one hand they are classed with the highly developed mammals, on the other hand we consider them quite primeval animals. Which is not too far out because a near relation, the mammoth, still lived during the last ice age. They developed from the stegodonts already during the Pliocene and their evolution can be traced back about 50 million years.
Today elephants count among the animals threatened by extinction worldwide, and only two subgroups with one species each are left; the African and the Asian elephant.
Their worldwide dissemination, like at the Tertiary period and the ice age, has long been a thing of the past.
The relationship between man and elephant varies widely. In mythology and in Hinduism and Buddhism they are sometimes idolised. The image shows the god Ganesha, one of the Hindu gods.
In other areas the elephant symbolises wisdom, strength and power.