This month’s issue of Zootles Elephants shows readers just how well scientist Cynthia Moss knows hundreds of elephants—and she can even tell them apart! As you know, all elephants have gray skin, big ears, and long trunks. So how does she keep them straight?

When Cynthia began watching elephants thirty years ago, she noticed their ears had different patterns of holes and tears along the edges. Their tusks looked different too—some elephants had broken tusks; others had tusks that crossed in front. Every time she met a new elephant, Cynthia took a photo. Then she put her photos into albums. By keeping track of the unique things about each, elephant, she learned to tell them apart. Even today, Cynthia and other scientists use her photo albums to identify hundreds of elephants in the wild.

You can be a scientist, too! Cynthia Moss tells elephants apart by looking at their ears and tusks. People tell one another apart by looking at eye color, hair color, height, nose shape, and lots of other features. And just like Cynthia Moss, we keep photo albums! Look closely at your family and friends. How do they look alike? How do they look different? What features do you use to tell them apart?

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