Iberianature Forum

Spanish mammals (lynx, bear, wolves, cabras, moufflon and the little furry creatures too). => Mammals of Iberia => Topic started by: steveT on January 31, 2008, 22:11 PM

Title: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on January 31, 2008, 22:11 PM
Dear all,

This question may seem  daft ……. but actually it is a very logical one to ask. Until perhaps around 600 AD there existed elephants in the north of what is now Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia….the Maghreb. There is a lot of historical evidence for this. They were almost certainly African in origin and, interestingly smaller than Asian elephants – but that is about all we know.  They may have been from the African forest or savannah groups (though this model for African elephants has recently shown to be over simplistic)…..or perhaps another distinct African lineage.

Aristotle said around 350 BC that elephants were numerous in the lands around the Pillars of Hercules (straits of Gibraltar). When this has been quoted it has been understood to mean that there were elephants on the ‘African side’, as there is later historical evidence of elephants in North African eg Hannibal’s elephants (except his own personal elephant, which is believed to have been Asian …and bigger than the rest, which were North African elephants). Aristotle may have wanted to include Iberia too, as having elephants but this not made clear at all.

What we do know is that elephants are excellent swimmers. The Straits of Gibraltar are only 14 km wide, which is nothing for an elephant. So, if there were elephant populations on the ‘Moroccan side’, there is a good chance that there were populations on the Spanish side or at least elephants were occasional or even regular visitors. There is similar vegetation on both sides and elephants would know this through smell. There would have been times of food shortages providing incentives to swim the straits, which could have resulted in visits or colonisation. There is also the possibility that elephants could have got into difficulties whilst on the shoreline   (elephants are very happy to bath in the sea, as it is common on parts of the Gabon coast) and become accidental visitors/colonisers.

 Evidence/information on elephants and swimming

Many of the recent elephants and the one mammoth that inhabited many of the Mediterranean Islands are believed to have at least in part swum there (they all under went a reduction in size…a typical response to island living). There were not always perfect land bridges to the islands.

Elephants swim across Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe – the same sort of distance as the Straits of Gibraltar.

 Stegadons crossed the Lombok Straits (part of the Wallace Line)  from Bali to Flores (and other Indonesian islands)  – further than the Straits of Gibraltar.

Elephants often swim in the sea off Gabon, as protected areas meet the coast.

Elephants in India have been seen to swim to off shore islands to feed.

I’ve seen it written that elephants have been observed swimming just under 50km.

They swim at about 3kmph.

Is there any direct evidence of elephants in Spain?

I haven’t found any but there is no direct evidence for the North African Elephants either i.e. no sub fossil bones and hence no dna, as far as I can gather. If there were elephants in Spain in the recent past, I guess they would have become extinct before North African ones, as they would have only probably occupied a part of the peninsula and so have had a more limited range and Iberia may have had greater human pressures too.

 What about currents in the Straits?

There are currents flowing east/west but as far as I can gather the central current flows counter to the northern and southern currents, partly off setting their effects, when swimming north – south. People who have swum the straits have done it in 4 -7 hours. Current speeds are 0- 5kmph.
 
What were these elephants doing in Northern Africa?

I have found nothing written about this. There is more than one possible scenario, however, I believe if we look at paleo-climate data  we can put together perhaps  a very possible explanation. 8,000-7,000 ya the Sahara was a mosaic of grassland, savannah and semi desert. This is known as the Saharan Humid Phase….and lasted up to about 5,000ya. Elephants and were present throughout most of what is now the Sahara and probably  all the way to the Mediterranean coast. They are pictured on rock art all through the Sahara.

 When the climate got drier and the Sahara formed, and a population of elephants perhaps  were cut off in the Maghreb. They may even have got smaller due to environmental pressures …. i.e. limited space and food supply. The formation of the Sahara through climate change would effectively have left an ‘island’ population of elephants in the Maghreb. This in itself could also have induced, through nutritional pressures, elephants to swim the Straits, as desiccation was in steps and often rapid and often on the decades scale. Or pressures to swim could just have happened in odd drought years that would occur from time to time.

Interestingly any elephants that would have made it to Iberia, would have not had encountered their only predator….the North African, Barbary or Atlas lion.

Conclusion

I feel that although there is no direct proof of modern African elephants being present in the recent past in Iberia (and there appears to be none for North Africa to date either), I feel that it is very possible that between 8000 ya and early classical times, that elephants were present in Iberia either as infrequent visitors or even in large numbers on a permanent basis…. being eventually wiped out by man.

Clearly these are my opinions  and I may have over looked important issues or articles on points I have made…..someone might have spotted  errors in what I’ve written or know something I’ve missed and show that the idea is flawed. Does anyone have an opinion on the idea?

steveT













Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on January 31, 2008, 22:43 PM
Greetings steveT,

Fascinating!
Of course can add nothing constructive to your theory/working hypothesis.

3 thoughts do crop up, however:
1. If we take for granted that life (i.e. all kinds of protein-based whatchamacallems, fauna, flora and fungi) began in warm climes and then for whatever reasons headed farther north and south, hairy mammoths would most likely have made their migration from south to north, getting hairier as they went along. Even if latter-day elephants (más o menos hairless) are apparently descented from Ice Age mammoths, surely that would have been due to 'em doing the return trip several generations later because of the various climate changes our dear planet Earth has undergone over the years.

2. Can't remember the timescales, but although elephants are excellent swimmers (as witnessed on a doc.*) they might also simply have crossed when the Straits were not covered by sea, as in the tree shrew migration mentioned elsewhere on the iberianatureforum.

3. The famous phrase, attributed to Dumas, and which riles Spaniards so much - "África empieza en los Pirineos" therefore takes on a newish significance ...**

*however one of the most amazing docs. I've seen recently demonstrated how excellently tigers, of all unlikely animals, swim ...

**and with looming desertization ...

Shall-watch-this-thread-with-interest regs.,
Technopat
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on January 31, 2008, 22:52 PM
PS:
Completely circumstancial and therefore irrelevant, but curious, nonetheless:
Hannibal's brother - forgotten his name - at the time of the Battle of Baecula (Bailén) had coins minted which had an elephant - the symbol of his army - on the tails side ...
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on January 31, 2008, 23:07 PM
Greetings steveT,
Technopat is on a winning streak: the guy at the museum http://www.lasprovincias.es/valencia/pg060701/prensa/noticias/Cultura/200607/01/VAL-CUL-198.html (http://www.lasprovincias.es/valencia/pg060701/prensa/noticias/Cultura/200607/01/VAL-CUL-198.html) agrees with me when I suggested that they crossed the Med when it wasn’t covered with water ... :dancing:

Googling also brought up the following isolated refs.:

Una nueva aportación para el conocimiento de la iconografía del elefante en la Península Ibérica: El ladrillo del Puerto de Mazarrón

    * Autores: Sebastián F. Ramallo Asensio
    * Localización: Anales de prehistoria y arqueología, ISSN 0213-5663, Nº 1, 1985 , pags. 129-132

Los restos más antiguos de la presencia humana en la Península Ibérica tienen 1,4 millones de años at http://www.consumer.es/web/es/educacion/2005/07/23/143964.php (http://www.consumer.es/web/es/educacion/2005/07/23/143964.php)

Another reference is the Ruta de los elefantes - Atienza to Medinaceli
http://www.atienza.info/textos/rutas/r6elefante.htm (http://www.atienza.info/textos/rutas/r6elefante.htm)

Follow-that-with-yer-performing-seals regs.,
Technopat
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on January 31, 2008, 23:28 PM
Dear Tp,

Re. point 2. There was a migration of 'elephants' (not modern elephants mind) from Africa to Iberia via dry land .....this was a few million years ago.

Re. point 3.  I like the reference to África empieza en los Pirineos" !!!

Re. The coins minted for the celebration of  the Battle of Baecula (Bailén) . I'm sure you will find the elephant on coin is African rather than Indian ..... I think I've seen pictures of this coin .... and if its the same one the image is clearly African elephant and not Indian.

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: Simon on February 01, 2008, 09:04 AM
Hi Steve T and Technops,

Hannibal's younger brother ws called Hasdrubal. There was another Hasdrubal, however, Hannibal's brother-in-law ; this Hasdrubal was the one who inherited the Carhagean throne after Hannibal's father, Hamilcar, died. It was Hasdrubal the brother-in-law who secured the Carthagean colony in Iberia and ended up being assassinated by an Iberian slave. The other Hasdrubal, i.e. Hannibal's actual brother failed in his attempt to maintains the Iberian colonies, which were conquered from a beachhead here at Tarragona by the brothers Scipio, whose mopnument is on the main coast road just to the north (more impressive than the monument itself, perhaps, are the numerous wreaths left by reatives of drivers who failed to swerve out of the way of the monument or ran out of road rubbernecking presvious wrecks!). This Hasdrubal led a late relief forces to Italy but was defeated a  Ancona. Hasdrubals' severed head was sent to Hannibal waiting at Capua, so the barca family might not appreciate any jokes about the other side to Baecula coin! I supose the questoion now is; which Hasdrubal was at Baecula?

Incidentally, Hannibal and his elephants allegedly crossed the Pyrenees via the Val d'Aran, as they are said to have passed through the territory of tribes called Arenoses. To get there they would have passed up the valley of the Noguera Pallaresa, i.e. my patch again!

Getting away from this rather off-the-subject debate; here's a report of humans c-habiting with mammouths:

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/cataluna/yacimiento/restos/mamut/Tarragona/podria/ser/matadero/elpepuespcat/20070606elpcat_21/Tes

Eat your heart out Fred Flintstone!

Simon

Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: lisa on February 01, 2008, 10:11 AM
I hope you're not thinking along reintroduction lines steveT  >:D
By the way, I don't think elephants evolved from Woolly mammoths.
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: nick on February 01, 2008, 11:00 AM
Brilliant posting!
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 01, 2008, 22:25 PM
Lisa ....well there is a  European Directive, as I'm sure you know, that member states are obliged to facilitate the reintroduction of once native species ......................only joking !!!!!!( The bit about the Directive is true mind ). Yes the bit about elephants evolving from mammoths, I'm sure your right.

steveT




Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: nick on February 02, 2008, 11:34 AM
A thought. Apart from the absence of a fossil record, there are, to my knowledge, no examples of cave paintings of elephants in Spain.
Painting an elephant would have been irresistible to any prehistoric painter .
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 02, 2008, 23:23 PM
Nick,

Yes I agree ....... it had crossed my mind. I checked on the net ( only briefly mind ) and elephants as a rock art images appear south of the Atlas range...........in what is now the Sahara ......I found none for the area where the North African Elephants lived either ie the MaGhreb Mediterranean zone   .....I could be wrong here though. I guess you can argue that not all cultures produce rock art and if they do, they choose images - and not always ones we would expect them to choose. I know little about Iberian rock art in the last 10, 000 years (Holocene), but there are no aurochs or bears- or few - these were not chosen - symbols of power that you could have thought would be expressed as rock art. There appears to loads of symbols and hunting scenes involving animals like deer and ibex.

Most if not all the remaining hunter gatherers of Africa produce no rock art eg Dorobo of Kenya, Hadzabe of Tanzania, various pygmy groups and perhpas the San bush men ( I could be wrong but non or very little of the rock in southern Africa is very recent). Perhaps the cultures of north Africa ( and perhaps Iberia) saw these huge creatures but chose not to draw them.

stevT

Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 03, 2008, 02:15 AM
Greetings All,
Lisa, I hope I made it clear, re. which came first, the chicken or the egg the woolly mammoth or the more-or-less hairless elephant, that to my mind it's clear, but I was referring to a study I once read that claimed the reason elephants had bristly hair all over was 'cos they were still in the evolutionary process of adapting to warmer climes ...
 
steveT and Nick - I've always wondered what criteria our ancestors had for their artistic creations - in some cases it's clear from hunting scenes, etc. But in other cases, as in much of the so-called art crap we have to put up with latter-day artistic expression, the mind, quite frankly, boggles.
I suppose that larger and/or animals considered too much of a hassle to hunt (bears? elephants?) would not have been bothered with unless absolutely necessary, as in times of scarcity of other food sources. And if times were tough, maybe artisitic expression was kept to a minimum. In other words, I would imagine that cave paintings were the result of a relatively well-plenished larder and not much need to spend time hunting. Either that or the guys (and gals) had already killed off all the local bears in order to squat occupy their caves. That don't explain the lack of elephant pics., however.

Interestinger and interestinger,
Technopat
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 03, 2008, 02:23 AM
PS.
Googling for rupestre AND elefante brought up the following gem:
http://sahara-news.webcindario.com/grabadosrupestresineditosdesmara.htm (http://sahara-news.webcindario.com/grabadosrupestresineditosdesmara.htm) of rock drawings from the Spanish Sahara (Smara).

PPS.
The two internal links to the two drawings themselves refer back to the same page, so don't bother clicking on the second link.
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 03, 2008, 02:28 AM
PPPS.
The following URL gives a nice pic. of a French stamp with an elephant, among other posers, from the caves of Rouffignac:
http://todocoleccion.net/francia-2006-cueva-rouffignac-pinturas-rupestres-tema-arqueologia~x2892029
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 03, 2008, 02:38 AM
Greetings All,
Don't want to keep typing in the capital P too many times, at least until the elections are over, so this comes under its own posting rather than as a postscript:
The following web site on Asturias http://www.desdeasturias.com/asturiasbasica/rutas.asp?idruta=48 has this:
Quote
Desde principios del siglo XX, la Cueva del Pindal forma parte del Patrimonio Artístico Regional. Posteriormente es declarada Monumento Nacional. En un trabajo de investigación llevado a cabo por expertos del arte rupestre, en 1954, se logran datar 45 pinturas, las más destacadas son 9 caballos, 11 bisontes, 2 elefantes, 3 cérvidos, 1 jabalí y 1 pez, un amplio abanico de la fauna de la época. La estrecha relación simbólica que unía al hombre y a la naturaleza animal salta a la vista. Otro tipo de relaciones, de carácter supersticioso o sobrenatural, corresponden al criterio de los analistas contemporáneos.

Por otro lado, la presencia de un elefante, un mamut más concretamente, silueteado con trazos rojos y un tanto desvaídos, tiene una gran importancia en el arte rupestre conocido en la península, ya que este tipo de representaciones son muy escasas. Además nos hablan por sí mismas de un clima extremadamente frío, como ya se apuntó. Y realmente hubo mamuts. Muy cerca, en los límites del concejo de Ribadedeva con el vecino concejo de Llanes, hace pocos años se descubría íntegro un esqueleto de este tipo de paquidermo. Esperaba a los investigadores en una cavidad del acantalidao que en pleamar quedaba oculta por el agua. El rescate fue muy dificultoso pero se concretó, y la realidad de sus fósiles sirven ahora para constatar la veracidad de las pinturas paleolíticas, de las que nunca dudamos.

Regs.,
Technopat
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 03, 2008, 02:50 AM
Greetings All,
Further googling brought the inevitable: ARQUEOLOGÍA PSÍQUICA (I won't bother you with the the URL), which raves about astronomy in rock art, but which if anyone can get past the first 3 or 4 pages will probably end up talking 'bout astrology or UFOs or whatnots ...
Haberlas-haylas-(En. anyone?) regs.,
Technopat
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 03, 2008, 03:03 AM
One last one from
http://www.elmundo.es/motor/99/MV123/MV123rupestre.html (http://www.elmundo.es/motor/99/MV123/MV123rupestre.html) :

Quote
MONTE CASTILLO
Puente Viesgo. N-623, a 27 kilómetros de Santander

Compuesto por varias cuevas (El Castillo, Las Monedas, Las Chimeneas y La Pasiega), se trata de un conjunto muy importante de arte rupestre, ya que están representados todos los estilos de arte parietal paleolítico y posteriores. Sólo se puede acceder a la cueva del Castillo, con más de 150 figuras de animales, como ciervos, bisontes, caballos, corzos y hasta un elefante, entre otros, además de 50 figuras humanas y manos, junto a múltiples signos.
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: lisa on February 03, 2008, 09:28 AM
Amazing research T , hasta the  hilatelic  :clapping: But all the references so far show the high head of the mammoth ece t. your last exam le. I found this drawing from the Cueva El Castillo which, I think, definitely looks more ele hant-like with the lower head although the University of Cantabria's  aleolithic art page (http://grupos.unican.es/arte/prehist/paleo/k/Default.htm) says it's a mammoth;
"Este primer inventario incluía entre el bestiario presente en esta cueva figuras de ciervas, ciervos, caballos, bisontes, cabras, uros, y temas más escasos en el área cantábrica como cánidos y lo que definen como elefante que no es sino una figura de mamut."

(http://grupos.unican.es/arte/prehist/paleo/k/2.jpg)

(Looks like a baby ele hant to me.)
By the way, in solidarity with T 's sentiments, I'm boycotting the letter on the top right of my keyboard  :)
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: Simon on February 03, 2008, 13:10 PM
Hi Lisa el al,

Just an idle thought - are African elerants trainable, I always assumed not. Rrobably too much tarzan watching asa srrog! If this is the case though then where did our friend Hannibal get his 'cavalry' (sic) from?

As for the 21st letter: Wee wee wee - tee hee!

Simon
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 03, 2008, 17:37 PM
Simon,

Afican elephants have been trained

The Carthiginians used the North African elephant in warfare .

King Leopold had many African forest elephants trained ih the Belgium Congo ....to help 'develop' the colony.

Decendents of this programme -only 1 left now I think - remains to take tourists around Garamba National Park DRC(this is a facsinating park which has had a very troubled existence).

The famous Jumbo of Victorian London Zoo, who carried people around was African.

I think there are a few trained African elephants in  S Africa .....but I' not sure.


steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 03, 2008, 17:43 PM
Thanks Lisa and TP, for the info on rock art!

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Simon on February 03, 2008, 18:49 PM
Thanks Steve, now I know. Thanks too to Technpat and Lisa for the rock art!

Simon
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 03, 2008, 21:02 PM
Greetings All,
Technopat feels that this thread hasn't yet run its whatever it is threads run and will be added to in the future.

Lisa - great idea yer non-use of the letter, but TechnoPat does feel rather strongly that the simple letter P can only be considered offensive highly objectionable if repeated, as in Simon's wee wee.

Am currently looking for a thread on which to further develop this theme :technodevil:

Regs.,
TechnoPat
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: nick on February 03, 2008, 23:04 PM
Won't these cave painting be of mammoths?
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 04, 2008, 08:38 AM
Agreed, Nick - but which came first, the chicken or the egg? I, for one, have lost count of the timelines ...

Meanwhile, notice you haven't yet contributed to our other ongoing rock art thread.

Regs.,
Technopat

PS:
Spain was known as the land of rabbits, not elephants ... nor bulls
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 04, 2008, 21:23 PM
Dear Lisa and TP,

Is there a date for the 'elephant' image at cueva de castillo? I agee it looks more elephant like. It could be Elephas (Palaeoloxodon) antiquus, an elephant that died out circa 30,000 ya and was very closely related to asian elephants......unlikely though. Also looking at a few preserved baby mammoth images the high head and lump doesn't appear so pronounced, as in adults.......so it could be still be a baby mammoth.........but again I'd go along with you and say it looks more elephant like.

I've been researching ideas on rock art/elephants/iberia/evidence from remains/and even information on north African elephants - there is not much out there.

What there is, is alot of information on elephants and their cousins colonising islands through swimming .... including longer distances ie futher than the Straits of Gibraltar.

Did the odd group swim across, yes this very possible.

Did they stay, breed, return on occassions ....... this is more difficult.

Where would they have resided ...... probably the mildest parts of south western Iberia, near deltas, flood plains, major rivers ......perhaps dispersing at specific times of the year to exploit various food sources ...... living off the mediterranean vegetaion they would have eaten in the northern Maghreb.

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: nick on February 04, 2008, 22:42 PM
This is the thread of the year so far!
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Technopat on February 05, 2008, 01:14 AM
Greetings steveT, Lisa and All,
Re. steveT's
Quote
looking at a few preserved baby mammoth images the high head and lump doesn't appear so pronounced, as in adults...
and Nick's latest, thinly-veiled attempt at irony notwithstanding, yours truly intends to go off on one of his tangents again and mention another thing that always strikes me 'bout rock art is that we presume the artist had formal training in perspective and other artefacts. Can't remember offhand in which relatively recent century of our modern era painters finally got to grips with such techniques, but until just the other day, things were pretty rough. Likewise, wot say ye 'bout artistic license?
In other words, we take for granted that what they painted corresponds to what we now "know" to have existed then and there - you only have to look at how they represented themselves to see how, shall we say, out-to-lunch they were as far as realism is concerned. I always have misgivings 'bout such circumstancial evidence, as with arqueological findings, when used as gospel for generalising 'bout sizes, shapes, customes, etc.

Admittedly, it's more likely that there is greater variety now than earlier on in the evolutionary timescale, or is it? How many tens/hundreds of thousands of species - including the odd humanoid - have died out over the years? Certainly far more than have developed/evolved.

Too late for developing this, but you get the drift ...

Regs.,
Technopat
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: lisa on February 05, 2008, 14:16 PM
Paleolithic if I remember rightly steveT.
Tp, I'm not sure about artistic licence but you're not serious are you? Sure they just painted what they saw, but why? Anyone know? Innate artistic yearning? Not the same as licence though  :)
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: nick on February 05, 2008, 14:37 PM
Just in case anybody thinks I was really being ironic

http://www.iberianature.com/spainblog/2008/02/05/elephants-in-spain/
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: pendeen on February 06, 2008, 16:38 PM
Hi,
No evidence that the "modern African Elephant" colonised Spain but remains of Palaeoloxodon antiquus an extinct member of the elephant family has been found at several sites in Spain.Also remains were found east of lLndon(UK) in 2006.Remains about 400000 years old.
Cheers,
Vince/
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: Spanish Footsteps on February 06, 2008, 18:31 PM
Hola amigos

I have not had time to read all of these posts, however if it hasn’t been mentioned yet Ambrona in Soria is a very important archaeological site where elephant remains and other fossils have been found.

One of the most important in Europe

http://archaeology.about.com/od/tterms/g/torralba.htm

http://www.valledeambrona.com/

regards
alfredo
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: lisa on February 08, 2008, 07:33 AM
Hi All, further to Tp's observation that may be they simply walked across, I've just read in a paper by Ettore Randi - Phylogeography of South European Mammals (http://www.springerlink.com/content/m146210455606803/?p=f6a300ed020548f69c3867febe6c96ae&pi=3) that, due to sea levels in the Med. being 100 - 120m lower than today, as recently as 20,000 years ago (ie during the Last Glacial Maximum) Iberia was joined to Africa. Even I, with my number dyslexia (there's a term, can't remember it now) was surprised at that. Still reading.....
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 08, 2008, 19:26 PM
Lisa,
 
I'll have a look article, as the general concensus that you have to go back a few million years to get a time when Africa and Europe were joined. The Gibraltar straits are much deeper than 120m.

steveT

Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: lisa on February 08, 2008, 22:02 PM
Mmm, I know. He has Sicily joined to the toe and the Italian and Balkan peninsulas joined. There's a map. I'll look at posting a quote from the text tomorrow.
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: SueMac on February 09, 2008, 10:07 AM
Hi all
Interesting stuff and taking a very broad geographical route so I shall throw in a couple more ideas (helped by discussion with my daughter who has archeological and  anthropological background. Pygmy elephants...and this little gem


Abstract
Archaeological excavations at Southfleet Road, Ebbsfleet, Kent, have revealed a complex sequence of fossiliferous Middle Pleistocene sediments containing lithic artefacts. An incomplete skeleton of straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon antiquus was found in lacustrine sediments in close association with a cluster of mint condition cores, flakes and notched flake-tools, some with evidence of use-damage. These finds appear to reflect in situ tool production and butchery of the elephant carcass. A far larger concentration of similar artefacts, again in mint condition, occurred nearby in the same horizon. These finds were overlain by a fluvial gravel containing abundant handaxes, some also in mint condition. A range of fossils, including pollen, molluscs and small vertebrates, indicates temperate conditions with local woodland coeval with the elephant butchery. The sediments appear to have formed during the early part of an interglacial, almost certainly MIS 11. As well as providing rare undisturbed evidence of human behaviour, the site supports the existence of a distinctive non-handaxe Clactonian core/flake-tool industry in southeast England at this period. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

http://www.cq.rm.cnr.it/elephants2001/pdf/402_406.pdf
SUMMARY: The wall paintings of the 18th Dynasty tomb of Rekh-mi-Re¯, vizier of Thutmosis III, at Thebes
(Egypt) show, among other figures, that of a small-sized elephant borne by the Syrian tributaries as a gift to
the Egyptian pharaoh. It has been observed that this proboscidean cannot be an immature specimen in view
of its large tusks, and that it could be referred to the Asiatic elephant, which seems to have lived in historical
times in the western Near East. But, in the light of archaeological and paleontological evidence, it cannot
be excluded that the elephant depicted in the Rekh-mi-R tomb could also represent a dwarf proboscidean,
possibly imported to Egypt from somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean islands where endemic dwarf
elephants might still have survived up to protohistorical times.

This is a very interesting paper and there is another paper knocking around from my alma mater Soton uni on same stuff.
SueMac
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: lisa on February 09, 2008, 10:49 AM
From Phylogeography of South European Mammals on Springerlink; (http://www.springerlink.com/content/m146210455606803/?p=e6326dd832964c54a78e9fc67b07ff0b&pi=2)

"The Pleistocene climatic changes had manifold consequences on landscape
structure in southern Europe. At LGM the distributions of plant and animal
species were strongly conditioned by the huge Scandinavian and Alpine ice
caps, the extension of continental permafrost and tundra, the lowering of the
sea level (the Mediterranean was 120 m lower than present) and the presence
of land bridges in the Mediterranean (Figure 2).
"

And below the map;

"Figure 2. The main landscape changes in southern Europe at LGM. Glaciers covered most of
northern Europe, the Pyrenees and the Alps. Permafrost existed over most of the European
continent. The Mediterranean was 100-120 m lower than present resulting in land bridges,
such as those connecting the Iberian Peninsula and Africa, Corsica and Sardinia, Sicily and
the Italian Peninsula, and the Italian and Balkan peninsulas
."
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 09, 2008, 23:05 PM
Lisa,

I could only get the abstract. As far as I understand the scientific community are really convinced there was no land bridge between iberia and africa after approx 5 million years ago ..... all  articles that are related to this area, refer to this.

The last glacial maxima LGM was aprrox 30 000 years ago.........I have seen no article refering to a land bridge to Europe at this time ........ in fact all related articles refer to the presence of sea.

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 09, 2008, 23:16 PM
Lisa ..... just discovered your message ...... thanks......yes I agree with your concerns.

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 09, 2008, 23:49 PM
Lisa,

LGM was 18,000 years ago ......sorry my mistake .....

steveT

Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Jill on February 10, 2008, 19:50 PM
The Egyptian painting sounds intriguing, SueMac. I love the idea of dinky little elephants - but I guess it could just be a solid gold elephant, or something of that sort; a work of art, rather than a real animal.

The Ebbsfleet find is wonderful, but not entirely unique. (eg. There have been similar, less spectacular finds in Sussex, some on the seashore, and some associated with the "Boxgrove man" find.)
So, I don't think there's any doubt that there were elephants in Europe - including both Spain and Southern England - during the palaeolithic. What Steve is asking is whether modern elephants lived here.

What is the difference between the modern African elephant and this Palaeoloxodon fellow, Steve? Did the modern elephant evolve from the Palaeoloxodon? If so, is there hard (boney) evidence for its evolution having occurred?

If the conjectured evolution occurred in Africa, then we are supposing that Palaeoloxy died out (combination of ice-age, in the north, and over-hunting, perhaps?) and the modern type swam across.

And Hannibal rounded a few of them up... and set off on his warpath...

What is needed, to prove the possibility of the modern elephant having lived here, is fossils of the modern elephant...!
Start digging, everybody!

Jil

P.S. Re. the "land-bridges". I can't find the chart - it's under my feet, in a pile of 1,000 others - but wikipedia gives the depth in the Straits as 300 to 900 metres. (This doesn't rule out land bridges between the islands in the Eastern Med. I didn't check for those depths.)
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: SueMac on February 10, 2008, 20:53 PM
Hi Jill and Steve,
Well to push this a little further is the the protohistorical period modern enough for you? That is the period just before recorded history.
SueMac
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: SueMac on February 10, 2008, 20:56 PM
Sorry I meant to say that the pygmy elephant on the islands of the mediterranean are or at least were real. http://hometown.aol.com/kphairdeal/elephants.html
This is an article of many that gives a flavour of elephant evolution, including the pygmy.  Apparently animals that were isolated on the islands  tended to grow smaller rather than larger. 

My reading of Hannibal's period of history and relationship to elephants equates imho to camels in Australia in 19thC

SueMac
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Jill on February 10, 2008, 23:50 PM
Well, you learn something new every day !

"The smallest elephants, about the size of a calf or a large pig, were a prehistoric species that lived on the island of Crete during the Pleistocene epoch" (wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant))

Thanks for enlightening me, Sue!

However, as far as I can gather, neither these dwarf elephants nor the P. antiquus were closely related to the African elephant species.
(Not that it matters much to me personally. One elephant species roaming around in Spain is as good as any other, to me!)
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: SueMac on February 11, 2008, 10:15 AM
Hi Jill
Actually if you read the article I posted there is an argument that they are possibly descended from African elephants,  There is a reference somewhere to the smaller elephant possibly being around Europe and Med up to 4000 years ago. Fascinating stuff as it knocks on to other mammals as well.


Simmons, A. H. 2005. Ancient cultures in arid lands. UNLV Fusion, of the University of Nevada at Los Vegas, 2005. This consists of 3 pages of a magazine or newsletter, although written by someone else, is about Professor Alan Simmons, author of the book above on Aetokremnos and the hunters of pygmy hippopotami of Cyprus.
Example extracts:
Anthropology professor Alan Simmons [of the University of Nevada at Los Vegas - UNLV] explores how the social and economic changes that occurred 10,000 years ago in the Middle East forever altered the human experience.
About 10,000 years ago, humankind experienced a dramatic transformation known as the Neolithic Revolution. It was during this time that the peoples of the Middle East began to cultivate and produce their own food rather than hunt and gather it. Consequently, nomadic existence gave way to the development of village life, and farming and domestication of animals became common.
For UNLV anthropology professor Alan Simmons, the Neolithic Revolution remains the single-most fascinating period in human history - so fascinating, in fact, that he has spent his life's work devoted to its study. "The Neolithic Revolution truly changed the social fabric of life," says Dr. Simmons, who joined the UNLV faculty in 1993 and now chairs the department of anthropology and ethnic studies. "For literally millions of years, we had been hunters and gatherers. But when we settled down into village life and started producing food, we set the stage for the present world. Without the Neolithic Revolution - without the security provided by domestic plants and animals, without the population growth that results from village living - we never would have developed complex urban societies."... [continues]
Once the Neolithic Revolution became established on the Near Eastern mainland, he says, it was inevitable that the radical changes it brought would spread to surrounding areas. Neolithic economies ultimately reached Europe but the exact trajectory of this is unclear. Along the way, it appears that several Mediterranean islands were colonized; conventional wisdom has suggested that this occurred relatively late in the Neolithic sequence. This assumption, however, has been questioned by Simmons and his research team since they discovered that the first occupants on the island of Cyprus appeared around 12,000 years ago and were actually pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherers.
"Our excavations at Akrotiri Aetokremnos on Cyprus generated considerable controversy." Simmons says. noting that his findings implicate humans in the extinction of a native species of pygmy hippopotamus on the island. "We found the fossilized remains of several hundred of the small hippopotami. as well as cultural artifacts indicating that humans had hunted the animals." These materials predated the Neolithic Revolution and challenged the assumption that colonization of the Mediterranean islands occurred much later. Simmons' discovery there also established a chronological benchmark from which researchers would go on to investigate subsequent Neolithic developments. Since Akrotiri Aetokremnos, new research by British and French investigators has shortened the gap between the "Akrotiri Phase" and the traditional Neolithic period, establishing a previously unknown, earlier Neolithic period. In addition, the French research group also documented the presence of cattle on the island during this earlier period; previous research had indicated the presence of cattle much later in the Bronze Age (around 2,500 BC.).

It is my highlighting above  but also this period included bones of pygmy elephants around as well.  Just pointing out that there is much to understand on the trajectory of hunters and hunted around the mediterranean basin.

SueMac
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 13, 2008, 22:58 PM
Sue Mac,

I understand that atleast some of the dwarf elephants on the Med Islands were of Palaeoloxodon stock. Which were very closely related to asian elephants. Which would support your idea.

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 13, 2008, 23:13 PM
Dear Jill,

This Palaeoloxodon fellow was very closely related to asian elephants...... I think some believe it could have been actually a varient of the asian elephant.......I think I read that some where. Asian and African elephants are not closely related ......

Fossil evidence is what is needed ..... you are right ..... you never know ...... incredible fossil finds have already been found this century..........or it might be that that modern elephants never swam across the straits....

SteveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: SueMac on February 14, 2008, 10:53 AM
Hi Jill SteveT and other interested parties  If you can open pdf articles then have a lokk at the third page I think. Here is the url again.

http://www.cq.rm.cnr.it/elephants2001/pdf/402_406.pdf.
SueMac
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 14, 2008, 20:52 PM
SueMac ............. really fascinating ........ incredible!!!!!!!

Thanks for the redirection.

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: Spanish Footsteps on February 19, 2008, 19:32 PM
San Baudelio in Soria is a Ermita/Mezquita from the 11th Century.  It is one of Castilla y Leons architectural and pictorial treasures because of the stunning frescoes discovered inside.  Many of them were taken in the beginning of the 20th century and are now displayed in the Prado in Madrid and various museums in the USA.

Anyway, there just so happens to be a couple of paintings from the 12th century of elephants, see photo below.

alfredo
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: nick on February 20, 2008, 00:34 AM
For the second time today Alfredo, that is a remarkable image. I've never heard of it

More here from what is described as the Sistene Chapel of Castilla Leon

http://www.lafronteradelduero.com/Paginas/casillas_de_berlanga.html
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Baudelio_de_Berlanga
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 24, 2008, 00:07 AM
Alfredo ,

The article was really interesting .....  I tried to find out if this image has any significance.....but found nothing.

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: Spanish Footsteps on February 24, 2008, 14:28 PM
Hola

Yes, there is a lot of mystery that surrounds the frescoes in San Baudelio.  In total there are 4 elephants, note the castle, it is not behind them but on their backs.
Here is another one from the Ermita/Mezquita

alfredo
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to
Post by: Dave on February 24, 2008, 16:44 PM
Hi everybody
Here is a piece from an American student concerning the San Baudelio frescoes
http://www.unt.edu/honors/eaglefeather/2005_Issue/2005_PDFs/Garnett.pdf
regards
Dave
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 24, 2008, 18:48 PM
Dave this was so interesting......thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: Spanish Footsteps on February 25, 2008, 10:39 AM
Hola

I have lots of information about San Baudelio and would be happy to share it.  It is the elephants there that are more of a mystery.
It is believed that the elephant represents Jesus and the castle is the weight of the sins he carried along with the disease and misery he witnessed. According to Agustin Benito, who wrote the oficial book o San Baudelio and its frescoes.

Maybe we should start another topic on San Baudelio and its frescoes?

alfredo
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: steveT on February 25, 2008, 21:05 PM
Alfredo,

I would be really interested to find out more ...... continue here or start a new one I do'nt mind.

steveT
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: Clive on February 25, 2008, 21:28 PM
A new topic would be better to keep this one focused...

I keep dreaming of unearthing an elephant fossil whilst digging the garden and becoming famous!

Clive
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: Spanish Footsteps on February 25, 2008, 22:19 PM
A new topic would be better to keep this one focused...

I keep dreaming of unearthing an elephant fossil whilst digging the garden and becoming famous!

Clive

Clive you need to move to Ambrona, you stand a good chance of finding one.

alfredo
Title: Re: Could Modern African Elephants be considered to be also an animal native to Iber
Post by: SueMac on March 24, 2008, 22:40 PM
Dear All
 I am trying to get back to where I left off  on this topic.  I dont know if you have seen this site and there are some terrible typos but seems very informative.
http://www.elephant.se/mammoths

There is a reference to pygmy elephants again on another island above Siberia - again dying out about 4000 years ago.
 I attach a photo off my friend's camera of a model cast of a mammuthus meridionalis found at Orce.  Easy to see pelvis and spine.  The whole model seemed to be about between six feet and seven feet in height.
So Clive might dig up his fossil yet.
SueMac