The Very Strange ‘Shovel-Tusked’ Elephant

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Mr. Nature here, with an animal that I expect to turn up in Obann any day now: Platybelodon, aka the “Shovel-Tusked Elephant.”

We don’t have elephants like this anymore. Look at that elongated lower jaw. Scientists think it was used for stripping bark and branches from trees. They used to think it was used for scooping up water plants in swamps. Fossils of this critter were discovered in the Gobi Desert in the 1920s, by Roy Chapman Andrews’ expeditions for the American Museum of Natural History. I read all about it in All About Strange Beasts of the Past. It seems the desert used to be wetlands. In the absence of SUVs, air conditioners, and toilet paper, it’s hard to account for such radical climate change.

Platybelodon was smaller than a modern elephant, but still a pretty hefty beast. It looks like God was improvising on His elephant theme–like a jazz musician cutting loose with his saxophone. We only know these elephant variations from fossils, and from paintings made on the walls of caves by ancient human beings.

But I like to believe that someday we will know them better.

6 comments on “The Very Strange ‘Shovel-Tusked’ Elephant

  1. I prefer to think of him as a Flintstones backhoe. 🙂 Sorry, just a bit of humor there, but it does look like a backhoe. Whatever its use, I wouldn’t want one of these angry with me.

  2. Very interesting, but doesn’t it look a little awkward, like it would be more difficult to maneuver that jaw? Either way, elephants always seem majestic to me.

  3. Platybelodon, aka the “Shovel-Tusked Elephant” would be a great addition to the areas around Obann. Can’t just visualize Jack and Elayne riding on them?

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