Definition of proboscidean in English:


(also proboscidian)

Pronunciation /ˌprōbəˈsidēən/ /ˌproʊbəˈsɪdiən/


  • A mammal of the order Proboscidea, which comprises the elephants and their extinct relatives.

    ‘The nature and behavior of these proboscideans have also haunted South African naturalist Lyall Watson, who evokes their world in Elephantoms: Tracking the Elephant (W. W. Norton).’
    • ‘In addition, because they are believed to be the sister group to proboscideans, their aquatic preferences raise interesting evolutionary questions.’
    • ‘The earliest proboscideans lacked any trunk or tusks.’
    • ‘The team found several species of archaic proboscideans called Palaeomastodons previously known from 32-million-year-old coastal sediments in Fayum, Egypt.’
    • ‘There were once more than 300 species within the family, known as proboscideans, but today only Asian elephants and African elephants still exist.’


  • Relating to or denoting proboscideans.

    ‘Hypsodonty has been shown to be a spurious correlate to obligate grazing in previous studies on certain equid and proboscidean taxa as well.’
    • ‘As humans moved north into Eurasia from Africa and, later, south from Alaska across the Americas, proboscidean range contracted correspondingly.’
    • ‘If climate was the culprit, then people and proboscideans should have shared some of the same territory, at least until climate change shrunk proboscidean habitat.’
    • ‘If people hunted these animals to extinction, the authors argue, the kill sites should appear along the border between proboscidean and human ranges.’
    • ‘Climate change, then, cannot account for proboscidean extinction "unless one were to invoke serial climatic change that perfectly tracks human global colonization."’