Temporal range: Late Pleistocene to Holocene
Elephas falconeri Busk, 1867
Palaeoloxodon falconeri (also known as Elephas falconeri, or more commonly as the Pygmy Elephant) is an extinct Siculo-Maltese species of elephant closely related to the modern Asian elephant. In 1867, George Busk had proposed the species Elephas falconeri for many of the smallest molars selected from the material originally ascribed by Hugh Falconer to Palaeoloxodon melitensis. This island-bound elephant was an example of insular dwarfism, with an adult male specimen MPUR/V n1 measured 96.5 centimetres (3 ft 2.0 in) in shoulder height and weighed about 305 kilograms (672 lb), and an adult female specimen MPUR/V n2 measured 80 centimetres (2 ft 7.5 in) in shoulder height and weighed about 168 kilograms (370 lb). P. falconeri's ancestors most likely reached the Mediterranean islands during the ice age when the sea levels were lower, allowing a land bridge from the mainland.[a]
The belief in Cyclopes may be originated in P. falconeri skulls found in Sicily. As early as the 14th century, scholars had noted that the nasal cavity could be mistaken for a singular giant eye socket.
- During the peak of the last ice age, (about 18,000 years ago) the mean Sea Level was 110 meters below the present level.
- Busk, G. (1867). Description of the remains of three extinct species of elephant, collected by Capt. Spratt, C.B.R.N., in the ossiferous cavern of Zebbug, in the island of Malta. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London, 6: 227–306.
- Palombo, M.R. (2001). Endemic elephants of the Mediterranean Islands: knowledge, problems and perspectives. The World of Elephants, Proceedings of the 1st International Congress (October 16–20, 2001, Rome): 486–491.
- "Body Size, Biology and Encephalization Quotient of Palaeoloxodon ex gr. P. falconeri from Spinagallo Cave (Hyblean plateau, Sicily)"
- "GLOBE: A Gallery of High Resolution Images". National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC). NOAA. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- "Cyclops". Greek and Roman Mythology. (Mobile). Boston: MobileReference.com. 2007. ISBN 9781605010915.[dead link]
- "Greek Giants". American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 15 June 2014.