Temporal range: Paleocene – Recent, 60.0–0Ma
|African bush elephant, Loxodonta africana|
The Proboscidea (from the Greek προβοσκίς and the Latin proboscis) are a taxonomic order containing one living family, Elephantidae, and several extinct families. This order, first described by J. Illiger in 1811, encompasses the trunked mammals. Later proboscideans are distinguished by tusks and long, muscular trunks; these features are less developed or absent in early proboscideans.
Proboscideans diversified during the Eocene and early Oligocene. Several primitive families from these epochs have been described, including Numidotheriidae, Moeritheriidae, and Barytheriidae in Africa. (Anthracobunidae from the Indian subcontinent has also been included, but was excluded from Proboscidea by Shoshani & Tassy (2005) and has more recently been assigned to Perissodactyla.) These were followed by the earliest Deinotheriidae, or "hoe tuskers", which thrived during the Miocene and into the early Quaternary. Proboscideans from the Miocene also included Stegolophodon, an early genus of the disputed family Stegodontidae; the diverse family of Gomphotheriidae, or "shovel tuskers", such as Platybelodon and Amebelodon; and the Mammutidae, or mastodons.
Most families of Proboscidea are now extinct, many since the end of the last glacial period. Recently extinct species include the last examples of gomphotheres in Central and South America, the American mastodon of family Mammutidae in North America, numerous stegodonts once found in Asia, the last of the mammoths, and several island species of dwarf elephants.
The classification of proboscideans is unstable and frequently revised, and some relationships within the order remain unclear. As of 2005, at least 177 species and subspecies of proboscideans, classified in 43 genera, are recognized; the order is summarized as:
- incertae sedis †Moeritheriidae
- incertae sedis †Hemimastodon
- incertae sedis †Eritreum 
- †Mammutida (mastodons)
- incertae sedis †Gnathabelodon
- incertae sedis †Progomphotherium
incertae sedis †Afromastodon
- incertae sedis †Sinomastodon
- incertae sedis †Eubelodon
- †Gomphotheriidae (gomphotheres)
- incertae sedis †Tetralophodon
- incertae sedis †Morrillia
- incertae sedis †Anancus
- incertae sedis †Paratetralophodon
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