Monday, 28 October 2013

Anomalous elephants

Karl Shuker's excellent blog covers some of the mythical beasts and anomalous elephants I mention in the Pygmy Elephants book, out soon. There's a whole section on them in Chapter 1.

There's a baku (also spelt "bakua") a mythical Japanese nightmare-eating animal possibly based on a tapir, here.

And there are white (or pink) elephants, and - from Ta'ng Dynasty China - black-skinned, pink-tusked elephants. As I note in Pygmy Elephants, Asian elephants who work on the parades circuit in the hot August sun in India often have a blackened, sunburnt appearance (I've seen one), while the ivory of African forest elephants has a greyish-pink tinge compared to that of savannah elephants. The pink tinge was used to trace the origin of suspect illegal ivory shipments.

And above is a photo of magnificent - and entirely fantastic - elephant squid in Hanbury Street, in Shoreditch, London - notorious haunt of art students. It appears to be an African savannah elephant squid. Photo: copyright Matt Salusbury. I'm told the graffiti artist has only a "thin" copyright in law, as they are, after all, committing a criminal offence.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Corrected proof at the publishers now

The corrected first proof of Pygmy Elephants is at the publishers as I write, I'm expecting the second proof soon. Meanwhile, I'm getting the index ready, and putting together the text for the back cover. I've got a zoology graduate on standby to quickly read the second proof once I've finished with it. Here's the front cover already.

For reasons too complicated to go into, the photos below won't make the final version of the book. Here they are anyway.

All images copyright Matt Salusbury, cover image copyright Matt Salusbury, drawing based on a photo copyright Sali Palode, used with his permission

Dionthere skull

Reconstruction of a stegodon (relative of an elephant) - approx 3.7 metres at the shoulder in life

Phiomia (skull, left at the top and reconstruction, right at the top) and Gomphotherium (skull immediately above, reconstruction right).

The description of M. Le Petit's "water elephant" - an alleged pygmy elephant which Le Petit claims to have seen in 1910 along the Temba-Mayi River in 'the Congo' has uncanny similarities to two very ancient prehistoric elephant ancestors - Phiomia and Gomphoterium. Both had an elongated head and a short trunk. However, they would need to have survived not just a few million years but tens of millions of years to still be around in the early twentieth century Congo. And while Phiomia was found in Egypt, Gomphoterium was a continent away in North America. And they both had distinctive and visible tusks in their lower jaws, which Le Petit doesn't mention. Phiomia was 1.4 metres tall, Gomphoterium was over two metres. Shown are scale models and their skulls. You'll have to read Pygmy Elephants for more on M. Le Petit's water elephants.

Adult bull Asian elephant on the left, adult bull African elephant on the right, with male African elephant calf, showing their sizes for comparison.