The Story of the Elephant
by George Langford, Sr., Joliet, Illinois, prior to 1947
Edited and Copyrighted by George Langford, III, 2010
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The Old World Mammoths

The name Mammoth, as originally used, referred to one species only, but later came to include various other prehistoric elephants.  In the number and pattern of their molar plates, they grade from the Lozenge-toothed to the True Elephant type - few and coarse to many and fine.  The main feature distinguishing them from the latter is in the forehead, which is either flat or compressed before and behind into a high, narrow peak.  This added height of skull may have been a provision for greater neck leverage and attachment of muscles leading to the shoulder, for Mammoths were endowed with tremendously long and heavy tusks, which would have been almost unbearable burdens without such provision and even bad enough with it.

The earliest known member of this order was a flathead (Elephas Planifrons) from the middle and later Pliocene deposits of the Siwaliks Hills, northern India, and he was the first of them to enter Europe.  Another individual, better known in the latter country, was the Southern Mammoth (Elephas Meridonalis).  From a skeleton found at Durfort, France and now on exhibition in the Jardin des Plantes Museum, Paris, the beast's height when living is estimated at thirteen feet.  This animal is first recognized in the Val d'Arno of Italy, a late Pliocene deposit.  In Pleistocene times, he was represented by a variation (Elephas Meridonalis Trogontherii).  The former may be considered as the true "Southern" form, the latter as one who had adapted himself to a more rigorous climate.  The latter at least is presumed to have been partly clothed with hair.  His tusks were long and widely curved, but not to such an exaggerated degree as was the case with certain other mammoths.  His range in late Pliocene times covered the most of western Europe as far north as England.  Two of his companions, the Etruscan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros Etruscus) and Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus Amphibious Major), together with himself and a Striped Hyena (Hyena Striata) must have given western Europe something of an African aspect.  His bones have been found in the "Red Crag" deposits of southeastern England, whose geological age is late Pliocene.  Here he may have come in contact with human beings over half a million years ago, for the "Red Crag" is at least that ancient, and in it have been found eoliths or Dawn-stones - rude flints supposed by some scientists to have been the work of human beings.  With these alleged implements were traces of fire, evidence that the Dawn Man, assuming that he existed, was in far from a bestial state.  It does not seem likely however that he was equipped to hunt animals as large as the Southern Mammoth.  Such  an event may have taken place later in the early Pleistocene period, for at Piltdown on the Ouse, a fragmentary human skull has been found in association with eolithic flints and a slab-like implement made from an elephant's thigh-bone.  From his skull, which had good brain capacity, the Piltdown Dawn Man (Eoanthropus) may be adjudged to have had wit enough to cope with big animals although his jaw lacked chin and resembled that of a large ape.

Bones of the Southern Mammoth have been discovered in the "Forest-bed of Cromer," an early Pleistocene deposit on the Norfolk coast of England.  Here are also found huge flints, ascribed by some experts to human manufacture.  Their origin is disputed, but if made by Man, they would probably antedate the Piltdown Man, although not the flints of the "Red Crag" Pliocene.  All of these very ancient implements are conjectural, but the belief in them is not without considerable foundation.  We do know, however, that the Southern Mammoth came in contact with Chellan men, as has been abundantly proven by the association of his teeth and fragmentary bones with certain peculiar "hand-axes" or large flints classed as Chellean.  Such association has been observed in England at Gray's Thurrock, Essex and Ilford, Kent on the north and south banks of the Thames, respectively. It is found also at Abbeville, France in the Somme Valley and at Chelles on the Marne River near Paris.  In these and other localities, the relics - human and animal - lie deeply buried in river sand and gravel and in such intimate association as to admit of no doubt that these men and elephants co-existed.

The early part of the Pleistocene period underwent no known marked climatic changes until the First Glacial Epoch.  With the consequent blasting of vegetation and shifting about of animals, the southern Mammoth moved southward, taking his African friends with him.  The Sabre-toothed Tiger (Machaerodus) terror of Pliocene mastodons, probably went along too, and became extinct, for this was his last appearance in any country.  The Southern Mammoth returned to Europe during the First Interglacial Epoch and mingled with newcomers from other lands; the Giant Deer or Irish Elk (Megaceros) the Wisent or Bison (Bison Priscus) the Urus or Long-horned Ox (Bos Primigenius) the Giant Beaver (Trogontherium) and many others.  The Straight-tusked Elephant (Loxodonta Antiquus) was also in Europe at this time.  He was a later arrival than the Southern Mammoth but a hardier creature and persisted in his visits many thousands of years after the other had gone.  The Hippopotamus, Striped Hyena and Etruscan Rhinoceros disappeared with the Southern Mammoth.  Two or three Glacial Epochs were about the limit of their endurance, and so all of them became extinct in mid-Pleistocene times.

As far as known, no Southern Mammoth lingered in the Mediterranean area long enough to become stranded as did the Straight-tusked Loxodon, but one at least of his associates did. This was the Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus Amphibius Major) a larger but very near relative of the modern African Hippo (Hippopotamus Amphibius).  His remains in pygmy form are found in the limestone caverns of Sicily, Malta and Crete.  The little Cretan Loxodont Elephant (Loxodonta Creticus) a three-footer and the dwarfed Hippo (Hippopotamus Minutus) were two at least that must have been playmates as their bones are found together.  This shrinking in size to conform to their restricted range is but an illustration of the inborn power of adaptibility exercised by these animals to prolong their existence and thus put off the day of extermination.
[from the original, typewritten draft with hand-written corrections - GL,III, ed.]