(Physorg) -- The smallest mammoth known to have ever lived has been identified by Natural History Museum scientists, and is reported in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B today.
The extinct dwarf mammoth, species Mammuthus creticus, was around 1m tall, about the size of a modern baby African or Asian elephant.
It weighed about 300kg, half the weight of the previous known smallest dwarf mammoth, M. lamarmorai.
The fossils, unearthed in 1904 in Cape Malekas, Crete, have been re-examined and identified by the Museum's fossil mammal experts Dr Victoria Herridge and Dr Adrian Lister.
Mammoths are elephants, and 'elephant' is the broad term used for all elephant and mammoth species, living and extinct.
The identity settles a long-held debate about which part of the elephant family tree the Cretan dwarf belonged to.
It was thought that the Cretan dwarf was most likely a descendant of the extinct straight-tusked elephant, Palaeoloxodon antiquus, because this was the ancestor of nearly all the other extinct dwarf elephants found on various Mediterranean islands including Sicily, Malta and Cyprus. But the new work showed that this was not the case. Keep on reading...