Since the dawn of the twentieth century – and possibly earlier – reports came from the deep forests of Africa of "pygmy elephants" as little as five feet (1.52m) tall at the shoulder.
There were pygmy elephant sightings, and alleged pygmy elephant skulls and skins were sent to Europe's museums. There were even some living elephants of the pygmy species Loxodonta pumilio on display in zoos. Circus showman PT Barnum had pygmy elephants in his menagerie, and pygmy elephant sightings – with photos and film footage - continued into the 1980s.
The author travelled to India to interview eyewitnesses to kallana – the mystery five-feet tall elephant whose name translates as the "stone elephant" because it scrambles with such agility over rocks. This book includes photos of kallana never before reproduced outside India.
And research for this book uncovered pygmy elephant skulls that had lain forgotten in a museum store for over half a century.
This investigation also takes in the confusing differences between the known species of modern African elephant, and possible hybrid elephants. The pygmy elephants, it turns out, may not be all that they seem…
All this, and a mystery tree crab too!
ZOOLOGY/HISTORY OF SCIENCE