The Largest Elephant that Ever Existed

Image: Asiertxo

H.sapiens, Songhua River Mammoth, African Elephant

The largest elephant that ever lived was huge, taller than your two-story Mayfair flat and almost as tall as the average telephone pole. Evolved from smaller Siberian mammoths, the Songhua River Mammoth roamed Northern China and Inner Mongolia during the Middle Pleistocene about 280,000 years ago. It survived into the Late Pleistocene but died out well before the end of the last ice age.

Image: Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Science

Songhua River Mammoth Skull

Fossils of the Songhua River Mammoth are rare. The largest mammals in any group are never common because several factors set limits on population numbers. An elephant of this size would have a long maturation period, and breed slowly with only one or two offspring born at one time. Daily caloric requirements – pounds of grass and other fodder – would be huge and require that these huge beasts eat continuously 24/7. Brunch with second and third portions at no extra charge would have been a requirement every day of the week.