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Title: The straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) in Pleistocene Europe
Author: Davies, Paul
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis examines the evolution of the straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) in Pleistocene Europe where it was a conspicuous interglacial faunal element from around 780,000 until 30,000 years ago. This study investigates the evolution of P. antiquus through variation in dental and skeletal morphology by making comparisons between and within interglacial populations correlated with stages of the marine isotope record. The study finds that there is variation within populations at a local level but that mainly there is broad stasis through the evolutionary history of P. antiquus in northern Europe. This can be explained by P. antiquus having done most of its evolving in East Africa prior to its migration into Europe and by its accommodating climatic change through the Pleistocene by migrating to southern European refugia during glacial periods. P. antiquus was the sister-group of a number of dwarf elephants found on Mediterranean islands. In the present study the dwarf elephants of Cyprus are examined and the effect of size reduction from a ten tonne ancestor to a 200 kg animal investigated. The teeth of the dwarf elephant, Palaeoloxodon Cypriotes, show isometric scaling compared to P. antiquus, maintaining a similar shaped tooth but deviating from the growth line of P. antiquus; this is related to maintenance of function. The teeth of the dwarf show positive allometric scaling to the rest of the skeleton. The validity of the genus Palaeoloxodon is upheld in this study and the derivation of Eurasian Palaeoloxodon from Palaeoloxodon recki in Africa is examined. Comparison is also made between P. antiquus and Mammuthus species as are the effects on the former through competition with mammoth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available