JUL 01, 2016 06:43 PM PDT

Dwarfism found in an Elephant in Sri Lanka

2 2 837

Biologists in Sri Lanka have published the first documented evidence of dwarfism in an adult wild animal. A male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) measuring just over 1.5 meters (five feet) in height was seen in an aggressive encounter with another male of average size. The elephant's small stature was due to disproportionately short legs, according to the findings published in the IUCN/SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group journal Gajah.
"The ‘dwarf' was by far the main aggressor in the altercation and appeared to be older than the other, a young adult," states the study. "Other than for the disproportionately short legs, morphologically and behaviorally the dwarf appeared normal."

Although this individual appears to be doing well, it is likely to be an isolated incidence of dwarfism within the population. "There is no real advantage to the trait, so there will not be positive natural selection for it," Fernando explained. "Also there may be an issue in mating. However, since elephants show a high degree of sexual dimorphism with males being much bigger [than females], he may be able to manage."

"If you think about it, most animals, especially mammals, are either predators or prey. If you are either and are born with short limbs you would be at a very big disadvantage," Prithiviraj Fernando of the Centre for Conservation and Research, and one of the authors of the paper, told mongabay.com. "A dwarf prey animal is very likely to be caught by a predator and similarly, a dwarf predator would find it very difficult to catch prey. So such individuals are very unlikely to survive in the wild. Elephants in Sri Lanka are unique (together with those in Borneo) in that they have no predators. So he was very lucky that he was born here!"

Source: Mongabay News
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
Meet the Rare Binary Asteroid Recently Confirmed by NASA
Astronomers first became aware of an asteroid called YE5 in December of 2017, but something seemed odd about it after they were unable to discern its physi
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Is your commute harming your health?
How far do you commute every day? According to US Census data, the average daily commute...
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Why is the ocean getting louder?
 
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Rare Diseases That Changed Medicine
In the US, a disease is considered rare when it affects fewer than 200,000 people in the whole country. But, in Europe, a disease is considered rare when i
AUG 02, 2018
Videos
AUG 02, 2018
Pregnancy-Related Deaths High in the United States
Among the industrialized countries, the US has the most maternal deaths, with 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. How can this rate be so high in a countr
AUG 11, 2018
Videos
AUG 11, 2018
GMO Crop Ban Rescinded
Genetically modified crops that use neonic pesticides can now be planted in wildlife refuges.
Loading Comments...