Journal article

Was the dwarfed Palaeoloxodon from Favignana Island the last endemic Pleistocene elephant from the western Mediterranean islands?

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Publication Details

Author list: Palombo MR, Antonioli F, Di Patti C, Valeria LP, Scarborough M

Publisher: Taylor & Francis: STM, Behavioural Science and Public Health Titles

Publication year: 2020

Journal: Historical Biology


Volume number: 1

Start page: 1

End page: 19

Total number of pages: 19

ISSN: 0891-2963

eISSN: 1029-2381


This paper re-apprises the scant elephant remains belonging to a dwarf Palaeoloxodon of uncertain
taxonomy collected during the 1980s from a cave on Favignana Island (Aegadian Archipelago, western
Sicily). The elephant was recently 14C-dated to the Last Glacial Maximum (20,350–19,840 cal. BP), indicating
that the Favignana elephant is likely the most recent insular endemic Palaeoloxodon species thus far
reported from the Western Mediterranean. Dimensionally the remains are smaller than the late Middle-
Late Pleistocene P. ex gr. P. mnaidriensis from Puntali Cave (Palermo), and similar in size to the P. ex gr.
P. mnaidriensis individual from San Teodoro Cave (Messina) post-dating a flowstone U-Th dated to ca. 32 ka.
Accordingly, the possibility that relict populations of Palaeoloxodon persisted on Sicily longer than previously
believed remains an intriguing possibility. None the less, the available data do not clearly indicate
whether or not the small dimensions and recent age of the Favignana elephant may reflect a Late
Pleistocene colonisation of Favignana Island by small P. ex gr. P.mnaidriensis. Our palaeogeographic
reconstruction of the Aegadian Islands does however demonstrate that Favignana was connected to Sicily
during most of the Late Pleistocene, allowing elephants to disperse freely between Sicily and Favignana
during the Last Glacial (MIS 4-MIS2).


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Last updated on 2021-06-04 at 17:59