A review of the Pleistocene dwarfed elephants from the Aegean islands, and their paleogeographic context
|Klíčová slova||Elephantidae, Aegean islands, Palaeoloxodon, dwarfism, Pleistocene, palaeogeography|
|Citace||SEN, Sevket. A review of the Pleistocene dwarfed elephants from the Aegean islands, and their paleogeographic context. Fossil Imprint / Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae, Series B - Historia Naturalis. Prague: National Museum, 2017, 73(1-2), 76-92. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/if-2017-0004. ISSN 2533-4050 (tisk), 2533-4069 (online). Also available from: https://publikace.nm.cz/periodicals/fiamnpsbhn/73-1-2/a-review-of-the-pleistocene-dwarfed-elephants-from-the-aegean-islands-and-their-paleogeographic-context|
This paper provides a synthesis of the present knowledge on dwarfed endemic elephants from the Pleistocene of the south Aegean islands. Pleistocene elephants are quite well documented from Crete and Tilos, but with scarce remains on other islands. The systematics and affinities of these elephants are discussed here in the light of recent knowledge on their dispersal history and morphological features. There were apparently three different species on Crete, an older species of Early Pleistocene age and related to Mammuthus, and two others of Middle or Late Pleistocene age, namely Palaeoloxodon creutzburgi and P. chaniensis. The unique m3 from Kassos is similar in size and morphology to P. creutzburgi. From the other islands, the most famous and particularly well-documented species is P. tiliensis from Tilos. It was a dwarfed form estimated as being 1.8 m at the shoulders. Other important records are from the islands of Rhodos, Naxos, Dilos, Kalymnos and Kythera. These islands yielded palaeoloxodontine elephant fossils presumably of the Middle-Late Pleistocene age. The pattern of their dentition and the character of the limb bones, when known, resemble those of the European straight-tusked elephant P. antiquus, and the general opinion is that they were derived from this species. The main question discussed in the present study is the relationship between the elephant occurrences and palaeogeographic evolution of the Aegean domain. It appears that elephants populated Crete at least twice at different times using sweepstake roots. On other islands, elephants probably became isolated because of the subsidence of the Aegean domain and the sea level rise during the Late Pleistocene, which reduced land surfaces and food resources. Hence different degrees of dwarfism existed in these elephants and varied from one island to another.