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Many people have witnessed the miracle of birth...but very few have seen this miracle from an Asian elephant's point of view. From conception to birth, the National Geographic Channel follows the life cycle from inside the womb of the world's largest land animal.

Compared to pachyderms, humans have it easy. Female elephants carry their babies for almost two years before giving birth to a 250-pound infant! The 22-month pregnancy begins after a male elephant sprays his sperm onto the female and more than five billion sperm make their way inside. The sperm must swim six and a half feet to reach the egg...in humans, sperm only has to travel three inches.

Fourteen weeks after the egg is fertilized, the fetus's heart begins to beat. At this early stage, the elephant is only a half-inch long and weighs less than an ounce. Though the fetus has a long way to go, you can already see a small trunk forming. It may not look like much at first, but eventually, the trunk will be powerful enough to uproot trees.

One year into the pregnancy, the fetus weighs about 25 pounds. The baby elephant can now control its trunk, curling it into its mouth and over its head. Two months later, the sex is revealed and...it's a boy!

With only three months to go, the baby boy is fully developed and weighs 140 pounds. Still, if he is born too early, he will be too small to reach his mother's milk and could starve to death. From this point on, he'll gain a pound a day.
FROM: Inside the $75 Million House
Published on November 15, 2006


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