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Re: Ain't No Mountain Low Enough [elephants don't like steep terrain]



Hello,
First, thank you all for your feedback on my Southeast Asia query. I'm still going through the material and will let you know if I have questions. Ultimately, I want to keep abreast of paleontological finds in the region and possibly get students there interested. I sometimes speak to classes of students when I'm in Burma, so one day perhaps a few of them will start looking for fossils in Burma.


As for elephants, I have to say I don't think this is the final story. The article only deals with African elephants. I know from experience riding many elephants in Southeast Asia (including one ride that lasted 2 days!) that Asian elephants can be extraordinary climbers (we went up at least one hill far steeper slopes than 43 degrees). The elephants may have done this only because the mahouts ordered them to, but I was impressed with how well they did climb. Very surefooted. Even when they were free to roam, they went on hills. In fact, in parts of the region people still use elephants extensively for logging (it's tragic to see elephants destroying their own habitat!) precisely because they can carry logs on hills that machines cannot access. Of course, Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants, but not that much. Just an observation.

Dom



Dom's Photos: http://homepage.mac.com/freedom4/PhotoAlbum10.html




On Jul 25, 2006, at 10:40 PM, Dann Pigdon wrote:

This might have had implications for sauropods as well:

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Ain't No Mountain Low Enough
By Briahna Gray
ScienceNOW Daily News
25 July 2006

In his attempt to conquer the western world in 218 B.C.E., Carthaginian general Hannibal famously lost all but one of his elephants while crossing the Alps. A new study may explain why: Elephants just don't dig climbing.

It may not be much of a surprise that elephants aren't mountaineers. They weigh an average of 5000 kilograms, after all. And anecdotal evidence suggests that the pachyderms avoid hills when they migrate. So Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a geologist and chief executive of the Save the Elephants charity based in Nairobi, Kenya, decided to spy on a group of elephants in Northern Kenya. Over 2 years, Douglas-Hamilton and colleagues tracked 60 elephants with global positioning technology.

By plotting the routes on topographical maps, they learned that the pachyderms consistently avoided all slopes with inclines over 43 degrees...

More here:
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2006/725/2


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Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist         http://heretichides.soffiles.com
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
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