Mediterranean dwarf elephant

Palaeoloxodon falconeri

Mediterranean dwarf elephant (Palaeoloxodon falconeri)
Mediterranean dwarf elephant, by User:Milooryx on Wikimedia, 2008.

The Mediterranean dwarf elephant (Palaeoloxodon falconeri), also referred to as pygmy elephant, Maltese pygmy elephant, or Sicilian dwarf elephant, is an extinct species of elephant belonging to the genus Palaeoloxodon is an extinct Siculo-Maltese species of elephant that was derived from the Straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon antiquus.

In 1867, George Busk had proposed the species Elephas falconeri (or Mammuthus falconeri?) for many of the smallest molars selected from the material originally ascribed by Hugh Falconer to Palaeoloxodon melitensis.

Palaeoloxodon (Elephas) antiquus ancestors most likely reached the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Sicily from North Africa or possibly, from northern Europe during a period of Pleistocene maximum. When the sea levels were around 100 m (328 ft) lower, that significantly reduced distances and opened land bridges in between the islands and both to and from the mainland.

This island-bound elephant was an example of insular dwarfism, with an adult male specimen MPUR/V n1 measured 96.5 cm (3 ft 2.0 in) in shoulder height and weighed about 305 kg (672 lb), and an adult female specimen MPUR/V n2 measured 80 cm (2 ft 7.5 in) in shoulder height and weighed about 168 kg (370 lb)

The insular dwarf elephant grew at very slow rates over an extended period; attained maturity at the age of 15 years; and had a minimum lifespan of 68 years. (Nature, 2021)

3 Palaeoloxodon falconeri in taxidermy collections

IndexNameSexOriginAgeBirthDeath dateArrivalPresent or last Location
1-Puntali cave Palaeoloxodon falconeri-unknown ca 450 000 years agoca 450 000 years agoBasel Natural History Museum
2-Unnamed Palaeoloxodon falconeri- University of Nebraska State Museum
3-Sicilian Dwarf Elephant- Archaeological Museum of Syracuse


  • Palaeoloxodon falconeri on Wikipedia
  • Meike Köhler, Victoria Herridge, Carmen Nacarino-Meneses, Josep Fortuny, Blanca Moncunill-Solé, Antonietta Rosso, Rossana Sanfilippo, Maria Rita Palombo & Salvador Moyà-Solà, Palaeohistology reveals a slow pace of life for the dwarfed Sicilian elephant, Nature, at
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