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Asian and African elephants can be distinguished by the shape of their backs, the Asian having a convex, gently sloping back and the African a concave or saddle-shaped one. Male elephants (or bulls) are much larger than females (cows), being 20–40% taller and up to 70% heavier. The average African adult bull weighs about 5 tons and measures about 8 ft (2.4 m) to the shoulder. The largest elephant on record was a magnificent bull, now mounted as a specimen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., standing a massive 13 ft 2 in (4 m) at the shoulder.

Skin texture varies from the tough, thick, wrinkled, folds on the back and forehead, to the soft, thinner, pliable skin of the breast, ears, belly, and underside of the trunk. The tough skin bears a few, scattered, bristly hairs, while the thinner skin on the trunk, chin, ear rims, eyelids, knees, wrists, and tip of the tail has somewhat thicker hair. Daily skin care includes showers, dusting with sand, and full-bodied mud-packs which are later rubbed off against a tree or boulder, removing dead skin as well. These activities help to keep the skin moist, supple, protected from the sun and insects, and also aid in keeping the animal cool.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Electrophoresis (cataphoresis) to EphemeralElephant - Evolution, Body, Limbs, Head, Mouth And Trunk, Teeth, Ears, Group Structure - Eyes, Social behavior, Death