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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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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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