European Union makes Tilos dwarf elephants invisible


Tilos dwarf elephant reconstruction

This photo shows the reconstruction of a prehistoric dwarf elephant, found on Tilos island in Greece.

From the Aegean Islands site in Greece:

Tilos is a gem of the Dodecanese islands, rich in both culture and natural beauty, and its breathtaking views represent much of its charm. From peculiar wildlife and spectacular flowers to magnificent historic villages and pure-white secluded beaches, there’s absolutely nothing you can’t find on the dazzling little island.

If you’re searching for an adventure on a lost island, how about a peek at the fossilized bones of dwarf elephants? For those interested into the island’s past, they will truly fascinate you.

On the left hand side of the road to Megalo Chorio is the Charkadio Cave where the remains of dwarf elephants were discovered in 1971. The cave is not open to the public as excavations are still not completed. In this cave also neolithic ceramics and tools made of stone have been found, just as deer bones from a much older date than the bones of the elephants (about 140.000 BC).

… Nearby the entrance, you will see the construction of a new museum which will eventually contain the finds inside the cave.

… These dwarf elephants lived on the island until about 4000 BC.

The bones of thousands of elephants have been found in the cave and this discovery was one of the first to establish the existence of elephants in Europe.

Wikipedia also mentions the dwarf elephants of Tilos, and the exhibition about them.

On 1 May 2019, we saw the brand new paleontological museum, where the elephant fossils and other finds were supposed to go. However, the building was very empty and very closed.

That evening, we heard why. The European Union told Tilos that the museum was only allowed to open if visitors would pay at least six euros. Tilos did not want that, as that would mean employing a cashier whose wages would cost more than incoming entry fees. As not that many tourists come to Tilos; the museum is a bit in the middle of nowhere; and not many tourists and Tilos inhabitants would want to pay six euros to see the small museum. Though more would come if the museum would be free.

According to the European Union, a museum should be a business out to make a profit. European Union bureaucrats are apparently better at reading the novels of pro-capitalist propagandist and Donald Trump favourite Ayn Rand than at reading books on paleontology or other sciences. Museums should be about scientific research and informing the public about science for free, not about profits.

After this 1 May 2019 elephant interlude, the blog posts on Tilos will resume in proper chronological order. So, stay tuned!

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Woolly mammoths’, Neanderthals’ Ice Age adaptations


This 2013 video is called A group of Neanderthals attack a herd of woolly mammoths.

From the American Friends of Tel Aviv University:

Woolly mammoths and Neanderthals may have shared genetic traits

Findings point to molecular resemblance in climate adaptation traits of the two species

April 8, 2019

A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that the genetic profiles of two extinct mammals with African ancestry — woolly mammoths, elephant-like animals that evolved in the Arctic peninsula of Eurasia around 600,000 years ago, and Neanderthals, highly skilled early humans who evolved in Europe around 400,000 years ago — shared molecular characteristics of adaptation to cold environments.

The research attributes the human-elephant relationship during the Pleistocene epoch to their mutual ecology and shared living environments, in addition to other possible interactions between the two species. The study was led by Prof. Ran Barkai and Meidad Kislev of TAU’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and published on April 8 in Human Biology.

“Neanderthals and mammoths lived together in Europe during the Ice Age. The evidence suggests that Neanderthals hunted and ate mammoths for tens of thousands of years and were actually physically dependent on calories extracted from mammoths for their successful adaptation,” says Prof. Barkai. “Neanderthals depended on mammoths for their very existence.

“They say you are what you eat. This was especially true of Neanderthals; they ate mammoths but were apparently also genetically similar to mammoths.”

To assess the degree of resemblance between mammoth and Neanderthal genetic components, the archaeologists reviewed three case studies of relevant gene variants and alleles — alternative forms of a gene that arise by mutation and are found at the same place on a chromosome — associated with cold-climate adaptation found in the genomes of both woolly mammoths and Neanderthals.

The first case study outlined the mutual appearance of the LEPR gene, related to thermogenesis and the regulation of adipose tissue and fat storage throughout the body. The second case study engaged genes related to keratin protein activity in both species. The third case study focused on skin and hair pigmentation variants in the genes MC1R and SLC7A11.

“Our observations present the likelihood of resemblance between numerous molecular variants that resulted in similar cold-adapted epigenetic traits of two species, both of which evolved in Eurasia from an African ancestor,” Kislev explains. “These remarkable findings offer supporting evidence for the contention regarding the nature of convergent evolution through molecular resemblance, in which similarities in genetic variants between adapted species are present.

“We believe these types of connections can be valuable for future evolutionary research. They’re especially interesting when they involve other large-brained mammals, with long life spans, complex social behavior and their interactions in shared habitats with early humans.”

According to the study, both species likely hailed from ancestors that came to Europe from Africa and adapted to living conditions in Ice Age Europe. The species also both became extinct more or less at the same time.

“It is now possible to try to answer a question no one has asked before: Are there genetic similarities between evolutionary adaptation paths in Neanderthals and mammoths?” Prof. Barkai says. “The answer seems to be yes. This idea alone opens endless avenues for new research in evolution, archaeology and other disciplines.

“At a time when proboscideans are under threat of disappearance from the world due to the ugly human greed for ivory, highlighting our shared history and similarities with elephants and mammoths might be a point worth taking into consideration.”

How elephants survive African heat


This February 2019 video says about itself:

See How Cracked Skin Helps Elephants Stay Cool | Decoder

Why do elephants have wrinkled skin? The intricate web of cracks and crevices that gives African elephants their distinctive look is, in fact, an essential adaptation. Their ability to stay cool in hot African temperatures is thanks to these “wrinkles”, which aren’t actually wrinkles at all, but millions of microscopic cracks in their epidermis.

Californian islands’ small mammoths


This 5 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

The Island of Shrinking Mammoths

The mammoth fossils found on the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California are much smaller than their relatives found on the mainland. They were so small that they came to be seen as their own species. How did they get there? And why were they so small?

Thanks to Julio Lacerda and Studio 252mya for the Palaeoloxodon illustrations.

Playing Beethoven to elephants


This 13 December 2018 video says about itself:

BeethovenPastoral Symphony” on Piano for Elephants

This video was recorded by kind invitation of the Beethoven Pastoral Project.

A short “Piano for Elephants” improvised arrangement I made for Spy, Kanta, Namwan and Kat to play during their favorite afternoon snack of yams. Recorded in the mountains of Kanchanaburi, Thailand on a FEURICH 122 upright piano.