Sunday 15 August 2021

Yes, There Really Are Pygmy Elephants.

      Let's be realistic: the idea of a big hairy ape stomping around North America, all unnoticed by science, is weird. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it is definitely counter-intuitive. Even weirder still is the idea of monsters, which don't breathe air, lurking in our lochs and lakes. But there is nothing weird about pygmy elephants wandering the trackless depths of the African jungle. The jungle is big enough to hold them all. The pygmy elephant was described back in 1906, and named Loxodonta pumilio, and since then they have been repeatedly sighted in the wild, and live specimens have even turned up in zoos. Nevertheless, the scientific consensus has been that they were just dwarf individuals of the known elephant species, or juveniles roaming in their own temporary bands. 
     Nevertheless, 30+ years ago, two German zoologists, Drs Martin Eisentraut and Wolfgang Bohme marshalled the evidence and produced two papers establishing the existence of the animals. As they were published in German in the journal of the Cologne Zoo, a publication not prominent in the libraries of English speaking universities, they were largely ignored by English speaking scientists. Fortunately, the now defunct International Society of Cryptozoology got hold of them and summarised them in their newsletter. It is these summaries which I now intend to summarise in turn.