Monday, 20 January 2014
Wild pigs resembling miniature elephants
The Teesdale Mercury of 30 August 1922 (above) mentions a British expedition that was about to leave for (Papua) New Guinea in August 1922, and which was expecting to find "Wild pigs resembling miniature elephants." Thanks to Richard Muirhead, whose "wild talents" for librarianship once against unearthed an odd elephant reference.
There are no placental mammals in Papua New Guinea, as it's West of the Wallace Line, all the native mammals of Papua are marsupials, bats or introduced by humans - pigs, dogs and rats. Domestic (or gone feral pigs from domestic stock) play a part in the gift-giving rituals of the tribes of New Guinea.
There is, however, a cryptid (mystery animal) said to inhabit Papua New Guinea, the gazeka or "devil pig" said to be a large, elephant-like pig with a proboscis. Cryptozoologists speculate that it was some kind of large surviving preshistoric mammal such as Diprotodon (a giant extinct wombat, that may have lasted until the arrival of the first Australian Aborigines.)
The pygmy hippo (it gets a mention in Pygmy Elephants) was for many years a cryptid, written off by Europeans as just a misidentified African hog, a species of pig.)