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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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ScienceShot: Mini Mammoth Is World's Tiniest
8 May 2012 7:01 pm
Island living can be a tricky thing. Over time, the isolated environment tends to miniaturize large mammal species and grow small species into giants. That's what scientists thought happened to a tiny elephant, whose roughly 800,000-year-old fossils were found on Crete a century ago. Researchers thought the creature, about 1 meter tall at the shoulder (right, for scale), descended from ancient, mainland European elephants that came to the Greek island and shrank over time. But a new analysis reveals that the animal wasn't an elephant at all: It was a mammoth. Surface enamel patterns on its molars (left, light-colored tooth) and the ratio of its tooth height to width more closely resemble those of mainland mammoths rather than elephants, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The finding lends credence to a 2006 DNA study that argued that the Cretan dwarf was a mammoth, and it could push the animal's evolution back almost 3 million years. It also means that the creature-dubbed Mammuthus creticus-is the world's smallest mammoth species.
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