Pygmy Elephants of Borneo
AET: Yep, pygmy elephants do exist!
Wikipedia – Borneo Elephant
The origin of Borneo elephants is controversial for at the center of their history lies the true ownership of Sabah, the land they inhabit and now being claimed by both Malaysia and the Philippines. Two competing hypotheses argued that they are either indigenous, or were introduced, descending from elephants imported in the 16th–18th centuries. In 2003 Canadian Researcher William Sommers, through mitochondrial DNA, discovered that its ancestors separated from the mainland population during the Pleistocene, about 30,000 years ago. The subspecies currently living in Borneo possibly became isolated from other Asian elephant populations when land bridges that linked Borneo with the other Sunda Islands and the mainland disappeared after the Last Glacial Maximum, 18,000 years ago. Isolation may be the reason it has become smaller with relatively larger ears, longer tails, and relatively straight tusks. Other scientists argue that the Borneo elephant was introduced by the Sultan of Sulu and abandoned, and that the population on Sulu, never considered to be native, was imported from Java.”
Keep reading at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borneo_Elephant
WWF: Borneo Pygmy Elephant
“Borneo’s pygmy elephants have sparked debate over whether they should be classed as a separate sub-species. If action is not taken to conserve the forest on which this small population depends, Borneo will lose its elephants and such arguments will become redundant.
Until recently the pygmy elephants of Borneo were believed to be a remnant population of a domesticated herd abandoned on the island by the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th century. But a 2003 DNA analysis carried out by WWF and Columbia University found that the pygmy elephants were genetically distinct from other Asian elephants, thereby recognizing it as a likely new subspecies and emphasizing its conservation priority.
According to the DNA evidence these elephants were isolated about 300,000 years ago from their cousins on mainland Asia and Sumatra. During that period, they became smaller with relatively larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks.
The evolutionary history of Borneo’s elephants justifies their recognition as a separate evolutionary significant unit (ESU).
Keep reading at: http://wwf.panda.org/
National Geographic: “Extinct” Pygmy Elephants Found Living on Borneo
for National Geographic News
A gift exchange between Asian rulers several centuries ago may have inadvertently saved a population of elephants from extinction, according to a new study.
Today a small population of unusually placid and genetically distinct elephants lives in the northeast corner of Borneo, a Southeast Asian island shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei (see map).
Scientists have long wondered why the elephants’ range is so restricted and why they are less aggressive than other wild elephants in Asia.
Keep reading at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/