Smallest-Ever Mammoth Roamed Crete Millions of Years Ago
The smallest mammoth ever known to have existed roamed the island of Crete millions of years ago, researchers say. Adults were roughly the size of a modern baby elephant, standing over a metre tall at the shoulders. Remains were discovered more than a century ago, but scientists had debated whether the animal was a mammoth or an ancient elephant. A new analysis of the animal’s teeth suggests it falls closer to the mammoth lineage.
Palaeontologists Victoria Herridge and Adrian Lister, from London’s Natural History Museum, report their findings in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B. “Dwarfism is a well-known evolutionary response of large mammals to island environments,” said Dr Herridge. This evolutionary phenomenon is thought to be driven by the relative scarcity of food sources or by the absence of predators.