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Ancient Elephant Museum

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Monday, 20 September 2010 03:00



         Most people believe that “Dinosaur” is the world largest animal ever existed on the Earth. But, that was long time ago in the ancient world. What’s about nowadays? Of course! It’s an ‘Elephant’, the biggest creature that is closely relating with both human culture and evolution over 2 million years ago (Ma) till present.


Ancient & Modern Elephant


        Elephant comes from the Greek word “elephas” means ivory, which refer to their tusks. They are classified to the order Proboscidea, one of placental mammals. Early probosdiceans (lived about 55 Ma) were just the same size as a pig and had no tusk. Their descendants were widely spread and gradually evolved from the primitive types to more than 124 different species only two modern proboscideans, African and Asian elephant, survive at present.


Elephant…Thai National Treasure
The elephant has had a long association with Thai tradition and history. A white elephant was honored to be a Thai Royal war elephant when the king waged war against an invading enemy in Sukhothai and Ayutthaya period. In Rattanakosin period, elephant was appeared white on Thai red flag and was royal stamp of King Rama V. Therefore, elephant is formally acknowledged as a Thai National Treasure until this present time. The 13th March was declared as the National Elephant Day since B.A. 2506.  


Khorat… Land of Ancient Elephant

            Amazing elephant graveyard! Extraordinary rich of ancient elephant fossils, 16-0.8 million years (Ma), were found underground near the Mun River. It covers 4,000 acres at Tha Chang subdistrict, Mueang district, Nakhon Ratchasima province, northeastern Thailand. It is expected that there were about hundreds elephants which is one of the most amazing world discovery.Tha Chang yielded a rich ancient elephants fossils as high as 9 genus and 24 species from 42 genus and 175 species worldwide. There are genera;  

   1) Prodeinotherium  It was the size of a small elephant, about 9 ft at the shoulders, but differed from elephants in possessing a pair of downward curving tusks on the lower jaw. It once lived in Africa, Europe, and Asia in the early and middle Miocene, 16-10 Ma.

  2) Protanancus  It was the elephant with two uppers and two lower spade-like tusks. It was surviving during 16-11 Ma.
   3) Gomphotherium  It was about 3 m (9.8 ft) high, and bore a strong resemblance to a modern elephant. It had four tusks; two on the upper jaw and two on the elongated lower jaw. The lower tusks are parallel and shaped like a shovel, 10-6 Ma
  4) Tetralophodon  It was about 3 m (10 ft), extinct genus loosely related to elephants, had four tusks. It had a trunk. They were very widespread and successful elephant. It lived through the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, 10-6 Ma.

  5) Sinomastodon  Sinomastodon or Chinese mastodon was very similar to modern elephants. Several species are known from China, S. hanjiangensis from the Late Miocene and Early Pliocene, 11-3 Ma. Thai Sinomastodon is younger than Chinese species. They immigrated and lived in Thailand during the Pliocene to Pleistocene epochs, 5-0.8 Ma.
   6) Stegolophodon  Stegolophodon was a gomphothere with four tusks and a trunk. It lived in the Miocene and Pliocene Epochs, and may have evolved into Stegodon, 10-1.6 Ma. This genus is the direct ancestor of Stegodo\n.
   7) Anancus  Anancus is an extinct genus of gomphothere that have been found in Africa, Europe, and Asia. Anancus stood around 3 m (9.8 ft) tall, and closely resembled a modern elephant. It had two tusks, whereas most other gomphotheres had four. And had somewhat shorter legs, its tusks were much longer than that of modern elephant, up to 4 m (13 ft). It once lived during the late Miocene and early Pleistocene., 3-1.5 Ma
   8) Stegodon  Some Stegodon species were among the largest of all ancient elephant, 4 m high. Two upper tusks reach 3 m long nearly straight tusks. 11.6 Ma -11,000 years ago.
   9) Elephas  E. maximus is one of two surviving genera in the order of Proboscidea. The genus is very closely related to the mammoth genus Mammuthus, (10 Ma to recent)
  Fossil ValueTha Chang an original fossil site, is regarded as an ‘ancient elephant cemetery’… the world remarkable paleontological site. Moreover, there were also various ancient animals such as rhinos, giraffes, horses, wild pig, and primate as well as carbonized wood. The discovery of these faunas is like a book of life history and evolution in and ancient geography and climate. This area could be developed for an eco-tourism that will be benefit for local villagers and government.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 September 2010 09:15 )
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