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Dwarf elephants in Tilos
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. Scientists believe that these dwarf elephants lived on the island 45,000 years ago and that they disappeared about 4,000 years ago. 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.
Bones from the dwarf elephants.
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.
It is believed that the mini-elephants were so small in comparison with an African elephant.
The Charkadios Cave, where the elephant remnants were found, lies almost in the centre of the island, about 2 kilometers south of 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.
View over Eristos valley and Megalo Chorio from the Charkadios cave where the elephants were found.
Approximately in the middle of the picture is the cave where the finds were made.
The entrance to the elephant cave.
The cave is, as I said, not much to see. But I can highly recommend a visit to the elephant museum. The museum is unique in its kind, to my knowledge there are no other dwarf elephant museums in the world. The museum is located in a building by the parking lot outside the gates of the elephant cave. The museum houses a collection of bones of dwarf elephants.
The new elephant museum that opened in the summer of 2020 at the Charkadios Cave on Tilos.
The Elephant Museum was previously located in the Megalo Chorio. Then a lovely woman named Vicky guided me to the museum. She was so enthusiastic in her storytelling that people liked to go there several times just to hear her tell.
Vicky in the Elephant Museum formerly housed in Megalo Chorio.
Inside the elephant museum in Megalo Chorio.
On August 12, World Elephant Day is celebrated, which is an international annual event dedicated to the conservation and protection of the world's elephants. However, I do not know if the day is noticed on Tilos.
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