How Big Were Elephants in Ancient Times?

Elephants are majestic creatures that have roamed the earth for millions of years. They are known for their massive size and strength, which have made them a popular subject of fascination throughout history.

But how big were elephants in ancient times? Let’s explore their size and evolution through the ages.

Early Elephants

The first elephants appeared on earth over 60 million years ago, during the Paleocene epoch. These ancient elephants were small, no bigger than a modern-day dog. Over time, they evolved into larger species and spread across the world, adapting to different environments and climates.


One of the most well-known ancient elephants is the woolly mammoth, which lived during the Pleistocene epoch. Mammoths were massive creatures that could grow up to 12 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 6 tons.

They had long curved tusks that could reach up to 16 feet in length. These impressive animals roamed across North America, Europe, and Asia before becoming extinct about 4,000 years ago.


Mastodons were another group of ancient elephants that lived during the Pleistocene epoch. They were similar in size to mammoths but had shorter legs and a stockier build.

Mastodons had two sets of tusks that curved downwards instead of outwards like those of mammoths. They also had a more diverse diet than mammoths, feeding on leaves, twigs, and other plant matter.

Modern Elephants

Today’s elephants are much smaller than their ancient counterparts but are still impressive creatures in their own right. There are two species of elephants: African and Asian.

African Elephants

African elephants are the largest land animals on earth today, weighing up to 14,000 pounds and standing up to 13 feet tall. They have long, curved tusks that can reach up to 10 feet in length. African elephants are found across the continent of Africa and have two distinct subspecies: the savannah elephant and the forest elephant.

Asian Elephants

Asian elephants are slightly smaller than African elephants, weighing up to 11,000 pounds and standing up to 10 feet tall. They have smaller tusks than their African counterparts and only the males usually have them. Asian elephants are found in various countries across Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.


Elephants have been a part of our world for millions of years, evolving into fascinating creatures with impressive size and strength. From the small ancient elephants that roamed the earth during the Paleocene epoch to today’s massive African elephants, these animals have captured our imagination throughout history.