Thursday, 7 September 2017

Ancient 'Monster' Elephant Was 50 Percent Bigger Than Modern Cousins

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | August 30, 2017 01:57pm ET

CALGARY, Alberta —  Half a million years ago, the Arabian Peninsula wasn't a sandy desert but rather a lush, wet landscape. There, a gigantic elephant — 50 percent larger than today's biggest elephants — tromped around an ancient lake before dying, a new fossil skeleton reveals.

The behemoth, known as Elephas recki, is an ancient elephant species that existed from about 3.5 million years ago to about 300,000 years ago and lived in parts of Africa and the Middle East, said study lead researcher, Iyad Zalmout, a paleontologist with the Saudi Geological Survey in Jeddah.

Researchers first began uncovering the newfound animal's remains in northwestern Saudi Arabia's Nafud Desert in 2014, but other parts of the same individual were unearthed as recently as this year, and excavation work is ongoing, said study co-researcher Dan Fisher, the director of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan. [Mammoth Resurrection: 11 Hurdles to Bringing Back an Ice Age Beast]

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