Monday, 27 January 2014

No. 62 in "Mammals"

Pygmy Elephants is back in Amazon UK's "Mammals" hit parade - as of 27 January it was at no. 62, just ahead of The Mouse Nervous System and Wheater's Functional Histology!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Special offer on the CFZ Bloggo - yours for a tenner

For reviews, see here.

Readers of the CFZ' "Bloggo", as its blog is known, can for a limited period score a copy of Pygmy Elephants for only £10. (The "Special Offer" bit's in the right hand column if you scroll down a bit, click on "Buy Now" under the image of the front page.)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Sneak peeks at some of the 153 illustrations in Pygmy Elephants

Pygmy Elephants has a total of 153 illustrations, of which are 89 photos and are 53 are drawings by myself. I stumbled across a pen and ink black and white "nature notebook" style with handwritten captions by accident, which the publisher felt was good enough to keep.

Shown above is my drawing of an articulated skeleton of three-foot Mediterranean fossil pygmy elephant Elephas falconeri. Below are links to other drawings for the book. You'll have to buy the book to see the rest!

giant sengi, Elephas mniadriensis (they're below some photos from the book.)

Draft of a fossil pygmy elephant identification chart, inspired by those World War Two "aircraft identification charts" with the silhouettes. The chart in the book has captions.

Elephas antiquus life reconstruction

Elephas falconeri life reconstruction

Elephantalus (elephant shrew) gaffs

Mainland giant and pygmy elephant teeth size comparisons, elephant nain du Gabon.

All images copyright Matt Salusbury

"Tiny" elephant in store window, and a storm-tossed "dwarf" elephant on a "snake-laden ship"

Two newspaper archive reports of "pygmy" elephants have come my way, once again thanks to Richard Muirhead.

The one below is from the Tacoma Times of March 23 1909, describes the "tiny" elephant "Little Hip" performing in the window of Ryner Malstrom's Drug Store on Pacific Avenue (presumably in Tacoma, Washington State.) This is almost certainly a trained baby or infant Asian elephant. Pygmy Elephants goes into detail about several performing infant elephants in the employ of the great circus impresario PT Barnum, and relates the sad story of what happened to one of them when he was too big to be a cute "trick elephant" anymore.

A baby or infant elephant is the likely explanation for the "Snake Laden Ship" article from an unknown New York newspaper of 18 February 1911 (see top). It tells the story of the Manchester Castle arriving in New York from "the Orient" with 20-foot "snakes by the dozen" and a "'dwarf' elephant of three-foot height" after an eventful, storm-tossed voyage. As I go into in Pygmy Elephants, baby or infant elephants were much easier to transport across Oceans than well-nigh impossible to ship adult elephants. Note the quotation marks in the article around "dwarf" - as if the author (or sub-editor) knows it's not a real dwarf we're dealing with.

Wild pigs resembling miniature elephants

The Teesdale Mercury of 30 August 1922 (above) mentions a British expedition that was about to leave for (Papua) New Guinea in August 1922, and which was expecting to find "Wild pigs resembling miniature elephants." Thanks to Richard Muirhead, whose "wild talents" for librarianship once against unearthed an odd elephant reference.

There are no placental mammals in Papua New Guinea, as it's West of the Wallace Line, all the native mammals of Papua are marsupials, bats or introduced by humans - pigs, dogs and rats. Domestic (or gone feral pigs from domestic stock) play a part in the gift-giving rituals of the tribes of New Guinea.

There is, however, a cryptid (mystery animal) said to inhabit Papua New Guinea, the gazeka or "devil pig" said to be a large, elephant-like pig with a proboscis. Cryptozoologists speculate that it was some kind of large surviving preshistoric mammal such as Diprotodon (a giant extinct wombat, that may have lasted until the arrival of the first Australian Aborigines.)

The pygmy hippo (it gets a mention in Pygmy Elephants) was for many years a cryptid, written off by Europeans as just a misidentified African hog, a species of pig.)

Now available in the USA - and Italy

An actual physical copy of Pygmy Elephants, which I held briefly in my hand before posting it out to be reviewed.

As of 20 January, only had two copies of Pygmy Elephants left ("more on the way") and after rising and dipping somewhere between the top 140,000 and 180,000 it's now somewhere around the top 500,000 bestsellers on Amazon. Pygmy Elephants briefly enjoyed fame of a sort in the Amazon top 50 for "Wild Animals - Mammals".

Pygmy Elephants in the US only made the top 1.3 million, where it's yours for $18.89 including postage ("shipping"), but it may take between two and three weeks to arrive. Better hurry up and buy it if you're hesitating, as the price rose briefly last week, possibly due to exchange rate fluctuations. I have no control over the cover price. Someone based in Ontario, Canada, also seems to be selling it on Amazon.

In answer to your next question, CFZ Press told me they've recently sorted out "all platforms" so yes, the book will eventually be on sale on platforms other than Amazon. They are a small press with limited resources, so this will take some time. (They also assure me the book will be on their website soon. Problems with the internet connection in the 200-year-old house where the CFZ Press is based in rural North Devon have led to delays.)

Meanwhile, for the hardcore Amazon objectors, I will before long have a very limited number to sell direct you to at a slight discount (after postage), but only if you're in the UK. Contact me on

I am also assured that at least one actual physical shop will be stocking Pygmy Elephants, to sell to you directly for cash - the gift shop of The Butterfly Farm near Stratford-on-Avon

For followers of this blog, the ISBN of the published book is different from the one I was given pre-publication. It's now ISBN 978-1-909488-15-1. (I've corrected the now incorrect ISBN given earlier.)

Pygmy Elephants is also available from IBS in Italy, yours for €17.94 (includes postage to Italy).

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Contents page

Due to a last minute pre-publication error, Pygmy Elephants went to press without page numbers on the contents page.

Here if you need it is a printable version of the contents page, with page numbers added. Works best if you click on the image, and when it enlarges drag it to the desktop and drop it there, then print that image. You may need to copy the image and paste it to the desktop before printing on a PC.