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Dwarf mammoths in ancient egypt?

Dwarf mammoths may have survived in northeastern Siberia into historical times. (SF#87) Given this possibility, B. Rosen wonders whether the ancient Egyptians might have known of them. He points to some evidence that they might have. For example, one scene painted on the tomb of one pharaoh represents tributes brought from afar to Egypt, including a parade of exotic animals. One of these animals is an obvious bear. This animal would have intrigued the pharaoh because bears and ancient Egyptians did not coexist. Just as exotic to the pharaoh would have been the miniature elephantid following just behind the bear in the painting. It was about the same size as the bear. Since this elephantid was depicted with large tusks, it was definitely not an immature. It also displayed the peculiar domed skull typical of mammoths and which is absent on African elephants. Could it have been a late-surviving dwarf mammoth brought all the way from Siberia?

Of course, there are alternative interpretations. Asian elephants do have domed skulls, and the artist could have deliberately drawn the elephantid at a reduced scale. However, other animals are realistically sized.

(Rosen, Baruch; "Mammoths in Ancient Egypt?" Nature, 369:364, 1994.)

From Science Frontiers #95, SEP-OCT 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987