June 22, 2009—Scientists in Indonesia claim they have unearthed the 200,000-year-old skeleton of a giant elephant that stood more than 13 feet (4 meters) tall.
© 2009 National Geographic (AP)
A team of researchers claims they have successfully excavated a complete fossil of a prehistoric giant elephant.
The fossil was recovered from an abandoned sand quarry in East Java--most of it has been uncovered within the last several weeks.
The team, consisting of researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia and the Geological Survey Institute then transported it to the Geology Museum in Bandung, the capital of West Java province.
The researchers said that almost 90 percent of the complete elephant skeleton was excavated.
The bones are now being cleaned by scientists in the museum who are preparing it for further analysis and reconstruction.
SOUNDBITE (Indonesian) Fahroel Aziz, Bandung Geology Museum: "This is the first time we found a complete bone of elephant fossil, from its feet to head bone and from the trunk to its tail bone. All complete and well preserved."
Samples of bone will be used to determine the age and species of the skeleton.
Preliminary research indicates the elephant lived 200,000 years ago.
And scientists believe the elephant was much bigger than modern-day Asian elephants.
SOUNDBITE (Indonesian) Fahroel Aziz, Bandung Geology Museum: "The significant part of this discovery is that the elephant fossil that we found is of enormous size. Just imagine that the length from its feet to pelvis is more than two meters, maybe around 2.3 meters."
Scientists claim the elephant measured more than 13 feet in height, more than 16 feet in length and weighed more than ten tons.
The researchers believe the elephant became bogged in the river shallows or quick sand, perished and was quickly buried by water and sand---normally a carcass like this would have been eaten by other animals.