Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Mainland giant and island pygmy teeth, Elephant nain du Gabon

Here are some recent illustrations for the Pygmy Elephants book, there are now only a handful that still need doing.

The one above shows a molar (tooth) from the presumed mainland ancestor of the Mediterranean pygmy elephants, Elephas antiquus. That's the big black one. Shown to scale is a tooth of its smallest presumed descendent - Elephas falconeri. They're based on teeth I've seen and handled "backstage" at the Natural History Museum, London.

Here's my rough sketch inspired by descriptions of and visual material (drawings and photographs) on l'elephant nain du Gabon, an alleged "loud, aggressive... crop-destroying" pygmy elephant shot in 1948 in the then French colony of Gabon, West Africa. The European-looking man might be Monsieur Moirand, principal controller of waterways and forests for that colony. The remains of the elephant ended up in the Natural History Museum, Paris, where a 2003 DNA analysis concluded it was an ordinary forest elephant, Loxodonta cyclotis.

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