Cave drawings brought to life by exciting new discoveries
Tantalising rumours of huge, unusual elephants, with features similar to extinct elephant types like the mammoth, have circulated for years in remote areas of western Nepal.
In a time when it seems as if there is not much left to be discovered, Colonel John Blashford-Snell is an explorer whose very name evokes some of the romance of past colonial–era expeditions.
His discovery of two of these elephants has confirmed the rumours and sent a buzz through the scientific community. The two bulls, named Raja Gaj and Kanji, are huge—Raja Gaj stands 3.7 metres (12 feet) tall, taller than the biggest Asian elephant on record, and weighs around seven tonnes.
Their features happen to be remarkably like those shown in cave drawings of the mammoths, for example in southwest France, which are dated by evolutionists to as much as 30,000 years (and never less than 10,000 years) ago.1 These distinctive characteristics include unusually sloping backs, ‘reptilian’ appearance of the tail, a swept-up forehead interrupted by a deep depression and a large dome-shaped hump on the top of their heads.
Media speculation about the Nepalese giants has canvassed not only mammoths, but also species believed to be extinct for millions of years, such as the Stegodon, and Elephas hysudricus. Fossil bones of the latter, as well as of mammoths, have been found in Nepal.2,3
Obtaining DNA samples to compare with the DNA of mammoths (of which there are some samples) involves some difficulty. Also, neither mammoth nor modern elephants’ DNA has been properly sequenced yet. Nevertheless, using dung believed to be from these creatures, preliminary DNA testing is said to show that they are more similar to the Asian elephant than to the mammoth. Some speculate that these unique giants might represent some sort of ‘throwback’ due to unusual inbreeding….
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