Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sulawesi Dwarf Elephant

Asian Elephant (living relative to the
Sulawesi Dwarf Elephants)
Did you know that back in the Pleistocene there were several species of Elephant that stood only a few feet tall? These animals were all found on islands around the world, and grew smaller in size due to insular dwarfism. Some were found on Cyrpus, Crete, and other Mediterranean isles, some way over in California's Channel Islands, and some on the many islands of Indonesia.

The Sulawesi Dwarf Elephant is a member of that last group. Fossils of this creature have been found on Java and Indonesia, and they date back to around 2 million years ago. One interesting distinction about the species is that they had functional lower tusks, though there is still much to be learned about them and about the species in general.

What we do know is that these Elephants truly were small! They stood only about 5ft at the shoulders, which is a massive difference from the 9ft height of the living Asian Elephants (the two species belong in the same genus).

Status : Extnict for 1.5 million years
Location : Madagascar
Size : Height up to 5ft (1.5m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Proboscidea
Family : Elephantidae -- Genus : Elephas -- Species : †E. celebensis
Image : PLOS

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