Study confirms existence of dwarf mammoth

The Greek island of Crete – famed for the legend of the Minotaur and source of the delightful insult “cretin” – was once home to a dwarf species of mammoth, researchers said Wednesday.

Mammuthus creticus roamed the Mediterranean island up to 3.5 million years ago, measuring some four feet at the shoulder, the size of a baby elephant, according to a study published Wednesday.

The beast weighed in at just under 700 pounds and likely did not have the woolly coat some of its relatives further north were noted for, study author Victoria Herridge told Agence France-Presse.

Herridge added that the animal was “probably quite cute.”

“If you were to reconstruct it, I would say OK, make it look a bit like a baby elephant but probably chunkier … with sort of thicker limbs, stockier, and as an adult it would have had curly tusks,” she said. “The nearest image you’re going to get is a baby Asian elephant, but with tusks.”

Conversely, larger cousins of the mammoth found on Crete could exceed 16 feet at the shoulder, according to the wire service.

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