The Largest Elephant that Ever Existed

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Image: shizhao

Remains of more than 150 Songhua River Mammoths have been found in China, but most of the fossil evidence is bits and pieces, fragments of teeth, limb bones and the skull.

There were scattered human groups in Northern China at the time of the Songhua River Mammoth. Archeologists in Africa working on early human ancestor sites have established that the biggest elephants in Africa were occasionally hunted, and we can assume that was also true for Pleistocene hunters in China and Mongolia. The effort and danger were worth it – one successful elephant hunt and the clan had steak for several weeks.


Image: Bruce McAdam

But a word or two of caution. Elephants are very smart. Centuries ago in Asia, they were trained for hard labor in the forest and at construction projects, as battle tanks in war and prestigious transport for royalty. If pursued and injured by hunters, elephants will often turn around and look for their human enemy, then charge and try to kill the hunter who attacked them. Just imagine getting chased by a Songhua River Mammoth! … The huge head lowers, and the mammoth charges. You can’t outrun it and soon the trunk wraps around your waist. As you rise into the air, the last thing you hear in elephant speak is “Got you, little man, this is payback time!” and than all goes black… On second thought, forget about the mammoth hunt. It might be best for both mammoths and people that we have lentil soup for dinner.

*Special thanks to Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Science for the use of their images.

Sources 1, 2, 3

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