Dwarf elephants on Tilos

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In 1971 Greek scientists discovered bones of a long-extinct specie of dwarf elephants. According to Nationalencyklopedin (a Swedish language encyclopedia) there should have existed dwarf elephants on more islands in the Mediterranean. Why the elephants disappeared or died out, no one can say for sure. Tilos' volcanic neighbouring island of Nisyros have had a number of big volcanic eruptions over the years and probably the elephants became extinct at one of these eruptions.

The elephants were around 1.20-1.50 meter high, compared to the African elephant that may stand 4 meters tall at the shoulder. One can only imagine how cute the elephant babies must have been.

The Harkadio Cave, where the elephant remnants were found, lies almost in the centre of the island, along the road to Megalo Chorio. There is not much to see except a hole in the rock. Scientists are still excavating and therefore is the cave not open to the public. Outside the cave there is an amphitheatre where concerts are given sometimes.

The cave is, as I said, not much to see. But I can highly recommend a visit to the elephant museum in Megalo Chorio. The museum is unique in its kind, to my knowledge there are no other dwarf elephant museums in the world. The museum is in the same building as the city hall, about where the bus stops. The museum houses a collection of bones of dwarf elephants.

The Harkadio Cave. Tilos.

View from the cave where the elephants were found.


Ilephant museum in Megalo Chorio.

Inside the elephant museum in Megalo Chorio.


Vicky.  Museum.

The best of all is that there is a guide that enthusiastically shows around in the little museum. Vicky, who the guide is called, is incredibly passionate and guides proudly around among the collections. By the way, the guide tour is free. The museum is open weekdays 8.30 am to 14.30 pm.

A new museum, that is not yet opened, lies outside the gates of the Harkadio Cave, not far from Megalo Chorio.




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