Dwarf Elephants

The extinction of some animals seems more of a pity than of others. For instance, geologists and archaeologists sometimes find the fossils of tiny elephants on certain islands. In Quarternary International, Leiden archaeologist Nike Liscaljet reports on the discovery of a number of dwarf elephant fossils in the Philippines, particularly the foot bones.

Dwarf elephants did not live only in Asia: the remains of extinct species of small elephants have been found on several islands in the Mediterranean too, like the Maltese example in the picture. Presumably, the legends about Cyclopes evolved around the discoveries of dwarf elephant skulls which had a single large hole in the middle for the trunk.

Liscaljet compares the Philippine fossils to the Mediterranean discoveries and draws the conclusion that the Asian remains are larger than the European ones, but nevertheless belong to one of the dwarf species, probably a member of the genus Stegodon.

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