[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

The smallest elephants (was: The biggest dinosaurs)



On Thu, 28 Aug 1997 12:57:06 -0400 Ronald Orenstein wrote:

>At 12:32 PM 8/27/97 UT, you wrote:
>I thought the dwarf elephants Betty described were actually dwarf Mammoths 
>>that lasted on the island (which had been part of a larger landmass prior to 
>>the isolation of the island).  They supposedly survived until about 3000 
>>years 
>>ago.  I also think that the island in question was further north closer to 
>>Western Canada and Alaska.

>There is some confusion here.  There were at various times in the
>Pleistocene BOTH dwarf mammoths on Wrangel Island off northeastern Siberia
>AND dwarf elephants on the Channel Islands off California (actually
>mammoths, Mammuthus exilis) and on various Mediterranean islands (Elephas
>spp.).  For details (though Wrangel is not covered) see Shoshani and Tassy,
>eds., 1996. The Proboscidea: Evolution and Paleoecology of Elephants and
>their Relatives. Oxford UP.  Specifically, Chapter 22 is entitled "The
>Pleistocene dwarf elephants of Mediterranean islands" and chapter 24 is
>"Pleistocene dwarf elephants of the California Islands".  Ch. 23, on
>south-east Asia, notes that a dwarf Stegodon  is known from Java and other
>dwarf remains from Sulawesi.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals (Marshall Ed. 
Ltd, 1988) 
describes Elephas falconeri as a dwarf elephant that occupied Malta, Cyprus, 
Crete, Sardinia 
and some smaller Greek islands, as well as South of Calabria (Italy). It was 
about 90 cm. (3 ft) 
tall.

It's probable ancestor was E. namadicus, which inhabited Europe during the 
Early Pleistocene, 
and migrated south during the lowest levels of the Mediterranean Sea in the 
glacial periods. 
When the ice melted and the level of the sea raised, they became isolated and, 
due to 
conditions that favored animals which can take advantage of lower food 
resources, evolved into 
E. falconeri.

The book compares E. falconeri's case to the Shetland ponies from North 
Scotland, and, to go 
back to the topic of this list, also to the "dwarf ankylosaur" Struthiosaurus, 
which may have 
developed in insular isolation in what is now Austria, France, Hungary and 
Romania, and 
reached 2m (6.5 ft) long, making it the smallest nodosaurid found. (BTW, 
according to David 
Norman, ALL the dinosaurs found in the romanian region are "dwarf" species. 
This includes a 
sauropod, a hadrosaurid and an iguanodontid)

I hope you excuse my writing, but I'm translating from the spanish edition of 
the book (Plaza & 
Janes, 1990), it's 4 AM, and I've never been very bright either, even during 
daytime hours!  ;)

Regards,

Oscar

P.S.: It looks funny to me (funny peculiar, I mean) that Struthiosaurus, which 
supposedly 
evolved in a predator-free environment, has retained its body armour and spikes.
Can anybody ellaborate on this? Thanks