|Asian straight-tusked elephant|
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene
Falconer & Cautley, 1846
Palaeoloxodon namadicus or the Asian straight-tusked elephant, was a species of prehistoric elephant that ranged throughout Pleistocene Asia, from India (where it was first discovered) to Japan. It is a descendant of the straight-tusked elephant.
Some authorities regard it to be a subspecies of Palaeoloxodon antiquus, the straight-tusked elephant, due to extreme similarities of the tusks. Their skull structure was also different from that of a modern elephant.
P. namadicus is thought to have died out around 24,000 years ago, near the end of the Pleistocene. In 2015, a study based on extensive research of fragmentary leg bone fossils suggested that P. namadicus may have been the largest land mammal ever.
Several studies have attempted to estimate the size of the Asian straight-tusked elephants, as well as other prehistoric proboscideans, usually using comparisons of thigh bone length and knowledge of relative growth rates to estimate the size of incomplete skeletons.
One partial skeleton found in India in 1905 had thigh bones that likely measured 165 centimetres (5.41 ft) when complete, suggesting a total shoulder height of 4.5 metres (14.8 ft) for this individual elephant.
Two partial thigh bones were found in the 19th century and would have measured 160 cm (5.2 ft) when complete. A fragment from the same locality was said to be almost a quarter larger; volumetric analysis then yields a size estimate of 5.2 metres (17.1 ft) tall at the shoulder and 22 tonnes (24.3 short tons) in weight. This would make P. namadicus the largest land mammal known, surpassing the largest indricotheres.
The researcher Dr. Asier Larramendi of the Eofauna Scientific Research team is considered a leading authority in the field, especially with regard to volumetric analyses in estimating the height and weight of this and other extinct species.
- "An Ancient Elephant May Have Been Biggest Land Mammal Ever". 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2017-04-21.
- Larramendi, A. (2016). "Shoulder height, body mass and shape of proboscideans" (PDF). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 61. doi:10.4202/app.00136.2014.
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