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World's smallest mammoth identified

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-05-10 10:50

LONDON - Scientists at the British Natural History Museum on Wednesday published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, saying that they identified the smallest mammoth known to have existed.

The species was identified by re-examining fossil teeth in the Natural History Museum collection that were originally collected by legendary fossil hunter Dorothea Bate in 1904 in the island Crete.

The research team retraced Bate's footsteps on Crete to find new fossil evidence that enabled them to reconstruct the size of the dwarf mammoth.

Even adults of that species of mammoth were roughly the size of a modern baby African or Asian elephant, approximately 1.1 meter tall and weighed about 300 kg. Researchers suggested they may have roamed Crete as early as 3.5 million years ago.

"Dwarfism is a well-known evolutionary response of large mammals to island environments," said lead researcher Dr. Victoria Herridge.

"Our findings show that on Crete, island dwarfism occurred to an extreme degree, producing the smallest mammoth known so far," she added.

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