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Ancient Elephant Relatives Lived in Water

The Scoop: Ancient Elephants Lived in Water!

An ancient relative of the modern elephant may have lived in an aquatic environment. Fossilized teeth were found embedded in a rock in northern Egypt's Faiyum region, which is known to have been a coastal system that changed often from swamp to river and back again.

Little did I know that elephants share a common ancestor with manatees and other aquatic animals, so it makes sense that they would have some sort of water connection. Although the teeth that were found indicate that the ancient animals didn't quite look like we know them today – minus the recognizable trunk and much much smaller in stature (about three feet tall at the shoulder) – this creature would have eaten the freshwater plants that grew in the area. "Essentially it's a hippo-like mode of life. That's the closest animal that we can think of today," said Alexander Liu of Oxford University's department of earth sciences, lead author of recent research on the teeth. No wonder elephants are such good swimmers!


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Join The Conversation
kia kia 7 years
Cool. This could possibly be another link in the mammalian reversion to water.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 7 years
I love elephants. I can see the manatee/elephant correlation. They are both gentle giants!
glamorouschic glamorouschic 7 years
what??? cool huh..
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
Yes and ancient elephants were also original the size of horses. Ancient horses were the size of dogs and originated in North American and migrated to Europe before the Bering Straight Bridge was covered with water.
wren1 wren1 7 years
I guess it does make sense. Who knew?
Tabloid Tabloid 7 years
I would like to see them floating on the water. bwaahahah!
itsmeLee337 itsmeLee337 7 years
cool..Im not surprised it seems like elephants would probably rather be in the cool ocean that the hot land
Jude-C Jude-C 7 years
Very cool. Score one point for evolution :)
that's cool.
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